science

Artificial Meat, the diet of the future

The growing demand for meat in the world and the threat of environmental degradation have driven inventions like this: laboratory meat. 

Would you dare to try it?

Have you ever heard of meat made in laboratories or the so-called ‘clean diet’? NASA has been trying to grow food in space for years, so that the supply of astronauts is easier. In spite of many of its tests, this experiment, that seems of science fiction, does not finish working, partly by the lack of light that the astronauts face. If this process seems crazy to you, the cultivated meat (or in vitro) goes a step further.

Would you dare to eat it?

Is it real meat or is it an amalgam of artificial elements?

Is it harmful to health?

The medical researcher Mark Post is the true promoter of this idea that, for many, seems preposterous, but that has its background. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO ) has been warning of increased demand for meat for years. As he says, “more than half of the world’s rural poor depend on livestock,” which increases the demand for meat proteins and the amount of resources needed to produce it. Post has hit the nail on the head with this process, since the environmental damages would decrease significantly, also allowing food resources to grow. The equation of ecological disaster that we know so far is reversed: the arable land would increase, the amount of food that would be produced would be greater and the expenditure of resources in feeding livestock and water would be much lower.

What is cell agriculture?

Cellular agriculture is a simpler procedure than it seems a priori. An animal muscle, in case of injury, would begin to generate stem cells to regenerate and recover the damaged mass . This same scheme is the one that interests to form meat and is the one that reproduces outside the body of the animal, inside a platelet.

The first step is to perform a biopsy on the animal to extract specific areas of the muscle, which contain stem cells. Based on a special diet (with amino acids and lipids), the stem cells grow and double every 18 hours. Once they get the desired amount, the researchers stop feeding them and add collagen to organize, structure and form fibers with each other. The result, with a few weeks in between, is surprising: a piece of meat ready to cook.

The advantages of clean meat

With this idea would be achieved produce meat 7 or 8 weeks , a much shorter period compared with what it would take an animal to take appropriate kilos for consumption. Another key point, which is creating many followers, is that it is not necessary to kill the animal to be meat taste almost identical to which we are accustomed.

With this method you could get chicken, fish, lamb and pork meat. In addition, it would be 100% free of diseases , since its growth is controlled at all times in a safe environment. The creator of this product is to target future add to the meat (which is a piece of 100% muscle) omega – 3 and polyunsaturated fats, which would make stop producing bad cholesterol, after an almost perfect food nutritionally.

From the environmental point of view, meat would reduce the hectares of cattle that are currently used by 99%, since a single muscle extraction could multiply their stem cells incredibly effectively. In addition, 96% less water would be used  and 96% less greenhouse gases would be emitted.

Little meat at a high price

Because of its early creation, the amount of meat that is still processed is too low to be industrialized on a large scale . In addition, the resulting pieces of meat that have been created have no fatty tissue, so the taste is slightly different from the traditional meat to which we are accustomed.

Perhaps the greatest challenge this creation has is to eliminate the barrier of prejudice in the general public: not everyone is willing to assume that the flesh of the future is ‘created’ in a laboratory and not in the animal itself.

Despite this, Memphis Meets is the first company in charge of marketing this meat on a larger scale, with a vision of improving the environment, respect for animals and human health. Although there are many improvements in production, entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Richard Branson have invested in this “futuristic” meat. In Spain, the Basque company Bio Tech Foods has climbed the cart of clean meat and seeks, mainly, to be an alternative to livestock and get to market it at a price that is available to everyone.

For the time being, farmers in the US have already pronounced themselves so that the labeling of this meat defines as best as possible the origin of the product. In a few years the growing global need to consume meat may make this option the only one. A meat with a perspective of improvement in terms of taste and democratization of the price : meat made in platelet.