Meat the Future?
What is one of the biggest factors contributing to climate change, occupying 21% of earth’s surface land and only 3% efficient?
The world population will grow to 9.6billion by 2050, while an increasing number of people will be adopting North American lifestyles; this includes our massive consumption of meat. At its current rate, our planet can’t support the doubling meat demand. If we continue using traditional livestock methods, it’ll result in double the deforestation and a 77% increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Why current meat production is flawed
Uses significant resources: a single pound of beef uses 7000L of water, 12pounds of grain, 31.5 kWh about 4L of gasoline, 35pounds of topsoil!
The US could feed 800 million people with the grains they use on livestock*
in the US 70% of all antibiotics are given to animals, the more animals are treated, the higher the risk of antibiotic resistance
Agriculture accounts for 30% of the world’s land use, of which 70% for grazing livestock.
Cow farts are bad, so bad that a single cow releases 95 kg a year of methane, a gas that is 30x more potent than Co2! The whole livestock production cycle is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases.
Meat production produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector combined 🐓🐮>🚗 ✈️🚆
SO what are we gonna do? Converting everyone on the planet to a vegetarian diet ain’t gonna work, I like steak too much.😋🥩
But what if we could make the same meat, outside of the cow?
Through a process called cellular agriculture, we have been able to culture stem cells in a medium, growing in vitro meat. Instead of raising the animals and spending resources to grow and slaughter them, which is both inefficient and time-consuming.
It’s the same genetic material but made differently.
There are two types of cellular agriculture, cellular and acellular. Cellular focuses on making products from living or once-living cells like meats and leathers. Acellular agriculture describes harvesting products that cell cultures make by using microbes such as yeast; this allows us to create milk and egg whites. This idea has been around since 1922 and used in 1978 in making insulin.
but let’s narrow in on cellular agriculture specifically vitro meat
Stem cells are building blocks of everything; they can specialize into any cell. A single stem cell can produce up to 1 trillion muscle cells🤯
We extract these stem cells from inside a living cow, we separate the fat cells from the muscle cells. Then place them in a serum that feeds and promotes the growth of the cells; its a mixture of nutrients, salts, mineral, amino acids, carbohydrates and hormones.
We let the cell culture. Culturing is when the cells are extracted and placed in an alternative environment where growing conditions are favourable.
The cells multiply, forming myotubes, then muscle fibres(20,000 muscle fibres make one patty). Then they’re mixed with fats and minced.
Benefits compared to traditional methods
- 5.5x less water💧
- No need for antibiotics, viruses such as E. coli and salmonella are virtually eliminated as the equipment is sterile. 💊
- Reduce deforestation because it takes up 99% less land.🌳
- Animal welfare; as meat demand increases, so will the prevalence of confined livestock factories where animals are often treated inhumanely. Though it is not cruelty-free, fewer animals are harmed.
- Save energy, uses up to 50% less energy.
- 75–95% less greenhouse gas emissions →less of a climate change catalyst.
- Luxury foods, like Fois de Gros and Bluefin tuna, cost the same to produce as regular meats.
- Save time a patty takes 9 weeks to make, but a cow takes years.⌛
- the list could go on, check this out for more reasons
What’s Stopping Us?
Price is not competitive with the average beef burger(tho price has fallen by 99% in 4 years 🤯). The first burger in 2013 cost $330,000. Now, it’s about $11. Keep in mind few people were academically in the field back then, overtime prices will become cost-competitive as more research and talent break into the field.
Societal acceptance, people are reluctant about using stem cells because the bovine serum comes from fetal cow blood. However, research says that 1/3 people across the United States and the U.K. are willing to try it.
Like most emerging technologies there's not a lot of long term data to back it up. Cellular agriculture raises some regulation concerns as standard definitions of meat often assume “meat” is derived from a carcass, new regulations and laws may need to be created for virto meat.
Experience wise it’s paler in colour, and a bit bland as fat isn’t always well distributed. Certain foods contain complex networks of blood vessels and fat, which is hard to recreate with clumps of muscle cells. Processing methods have been used to adjust this. Several Taste tests prove it’s very similar to regular meat.
Where can you get your hands on it:
Meat the Future (hehe did not steal the title from this at all)
And Bill Gates and Richard Branson think its dope, investing in Memphis Meats.
“Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. That’s why we need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.”-Bill Gates