Eight Ways In-Vitro Meat will Change Our Lives

"Future Flesh" is squatting on your plate. Are you nervous? Stab it with a fork. Sniff it. Bite! Chew, swallow. Congratulations! Relax and ruminate now because you’re digesting a muscular invention that will massively impact the planet.

Fake meat: burgers grown in beakers. Photo credit: Will Sanders

In-Vitro Meat — aka tank steak, sci fi sausage, petri pork, beaker bacon, Frankenburger, vat-grown veal, laboratory lamb, synthetic shmeat, trans-ham, factory filet, test tube tuna, cultured chicken, or any other moniker that can seduce the shopper’s stomach — will appear in 3-10 years as a cheaper, healthier, "greener" protein that’s easily manufactured in a metropolis. Its entree will be enormous; not just food-huge like curry rippling through London in the 1970’s or colonized tomatoes teaming up with pasta in early 1800’s Italy. No. Bigger. In-Vitro Meat will be socially transformative, like automobiles, cinema, vaccines.

H+ previously discussed In-Vitro Meat, as have numerous other publications [see references at the end of this article]. Science pundits examined its microbiological struggles in Dutch labs and at New Harvest, a Baltimore non-profit. Squeamish reporters wasted ink on its "yucky" and "unnatural" creation, while others wondered if its "vegan" or not (PETA supports it but many members complain). This article jumps past artificial tissue issues; anticipating success, I optimistically envision Eight Ways In-Vitro Meat Will Change Our Lives.

1. Bye-Bye Ranches.
When In-Vitro Meat (IVM) is cheaper than meat-on-the-hoof-or-claw, no one will buy the undercut opponent. Slow-grown red meat & poultry will vanish from the marketplace, similar to whale oil’s flame out when kerosene outshone it in the 1870’s. Predictors believe that IVM will sell for half the cost of its murdered rivals. This will grind the $2 trillion global live-meat industry to a halt (500 billion pounds of meat are gobbled annually; this is expected to double by 2050). Bloody sentimentality will keep the slaughterhouses briefly busy as ranchers quick-kill their inventory before it becomes worthless, but soon Wall Street will be awash in unwanted pork bellies.

Special Note: IVM sales will be aided by continued outbreaks of filthy over-crowded farm animal diseases like swine flu, Mad Cow, avian flu, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and other animal-to-human plagues. Public hysteria will demand pre-emptive annihilation of the enormous herds and flocks where deadly pathogens form, after safe IVM protein is available.

Latex meat. Photo: slate.com

2. Urban Cowboys.
Today’s gentle drift into urbanization will suddenly accelerate as unemployed livestock workers relocate and retrain for city occupations. Rural real estate values will plummet as vast tracts of ranch land are abandoned and sold for a pittance (70% of arable land in the world is currently used for livestock, 26% of the total land surface, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). New use for ex-ranch land? Inexpensive vacation homes; reforested parks; fields of green products like hemp or bamboo. Hot new city job? Techies and designers for In-Vitro Meat factories.

3. Healthier Humans.
In-Vitro Meat will be 100% muscle. It will eliminate the artery-clogging saturated fat that kills us. Instead, heart-healthy Omega-3 (salmon oil) will be added. IVM will also contain no hormones, salmonella, e. coli, campylobacter, mercury, dioxin, or antibiotics that infect primitive meat. I’ve noted above that IVM will reduce influenza, brucellosis, TB, and Mad Cow Disease. Starvation and kwashiokor (protein deficiency) will be conquered when compact IVM kits are delivered to famine-plagued nations. The globe’s water crises will be partially alleviated, due to our inheritance of the 8% of the H2O supply that was previously gulped down by livestock and their food crops. We won’t even choke to death because IVM contains no malicious bones or gristle. (Although Hall of Fame slugger Jimmy Foxx choked to death on a chicken bone, about 90% of meat victims are murdered by steak).

4. Healthier Planet.
Today’s meat industry is a brutal fart in the face of Gaia. A recent Worldwatch Institute report ("Livestock and Climate Change") accuses the world’s 1.5 billion livestock of responsibility for 51% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Statistics are truly shitty: cattle crap 130 times more volume than a human, creating 64 million tons of sewage in the United States that’s often flushed down the Mississippi River to kill fish and coral in the Gulf of Mexico. Pigs are equally putrid. There’s a hog farm in Utah that oozes a bigger turd total than the entire city of Los Angeles. Livestock burps and farts are equally odious and ozone-destroying. 68% of the ammonia in the world is caused by livestock (creating acid rain), 65% of the nitrous oxide, 37% of the methane, 9% of the CO2, plus 100 other polluting gases. Big meat animals waste valuable land — 80% of Amazon deforestation is for beef ranching, clear-cutting a Belgium-sized patch every year. Water is prodigiously gulped — 15,000 liters of H20 produces just one kilogram of beef. 40% of the world’s cereals are devoured by livestock. This scenario is clearly unsustainable, and In-Vitro Meat is the sensible alternative. (Although skeptics warn that IVM factories will produce their own emissions, research indicates that pollution will be reduced by at least 80%.) Once we get over the fact that IVM is oddly disembodied, we’ll be thankful that it doesn’t shit, burp, fart, eat, over graze, drink, bleed, or scream in pain.

5. Economic Upheaval.
Soy Burger. Photo credit: greenbang.comThe switch to In-Vitro Meat will pummel the finances of nations that survive on live animal industries. Many of the world leaders in massacred meat (USA, China, Brazil) have diversified incomes, but Argentina will bellow when its delicious beef is defeated. New Zealand will bleat when its lamb sales are shorn. And ocean-harvesting Vietnam and Iceland will have to fish for new vocations. Industries peripherally dependent on meat sales, like leather, dairy and wool, will also be slaughtered. Hide and leather-exporting nations like Pakistan and Kenya will be whipped, but South Korea will profit on its sales of "Koskin" and other synthetic leathers. Huge plantations of livestock crops (soybeans & corn) in Brazil, USA, Argentina, and China can be replaced with wool substitutes like sisal. Smaller nations that excel in food processing will thrive because they’ll export IVM instead of importing tonnage of frozen meat. Look for economic upticks in The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, and especially Japan, who’s currently one of the globe’s largest importers of beef.

6: Exotic & Kinky Cuisine.
In-Vitro Meat will be fashioned from any creature, not just domestics that were affordable to farm. Yes, ANY ANIMAL, even rare beasts like snow leopard, or Komodo Dragon. We will want to taste them all. Some researchers believe we will also be able to create IVM using the DNA of extinct beasts — obviously, "DinoBurgers" will be served at every six-year-old boy’s birthday party.

Humans are animals, so every hipster will try Cannibalism. Perhaps we’ll just eat people we don’t like, as author Iain M. Banks predicted in his short story, "The State of the Art" with diners feasting on "Stewed Idi Amin." But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines. And of course, masturbatory gourmands will simply gobble their own meat.

7: FarmScrapers.
The convenience of buying In-Vitro Meat fresh from the neighborhood factory will inspire urbanites to demand local vegetables and fruits. This will be accomplished with "vertical farming" — building gigantic urban multi-level greenhouses that utilize hydroponics and interior grow-lights to create bug-free, dirt-free, quick-growing super veggies and fruit (from dwarf trees), delicious side dishes with IVM. No longer will old food arrive via long polluting transports from the hinterlands. Every metro dweller will purchase fresh meat and crispy plants within walking distance. The success of FarmScrapers will cripple rural agriculture and enhance urbanization.

Spam in a can.8. We Stop the Shame.
In-Vitro Meat will squelch the subliminal guilt that sensitive people feel when they sit down for a carnivorous meal. Forty billion animals are killed per year in the United States alone; one million chickens per hour. I list this last even though it’s the top priority for vegetarians, because they represent only 1-2% of the population, but still… IVM is a huge step forward in "Abolitionism" — the elimination of suffering in all sentient creatures. Peter Singer, founding father of Animal Liberation, supports IVM. So does every European veggie group I contacted: VEBU (Vegetarian Federation of Germany), EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative of Belgium), and the Dutch Vegetarian Society. And PETA, mentioned earlier, offers $1 million to anyone who can market a competitive IVM product by 2012.

My final prediction is this: In-Vitro Meat relishes success first in Europe, partly because its "greener," but mostly they already eat "yucky" delicacies like snails, smoked eel, blood pudding, pig’s head cheese, and haggis (sheep’s stomach stuffed with oatmeal). In the USA, IVM will initially invade the market in Spam cans and Hot Dogs, shapes that salivating shoppers are sold on as mysterious & artificial, but edible & absolutely American.

222 Responses

  1. Adameria says:

    Good Afternoon,

    I linked to your article in a blog post for my digital writing class about the future of lab created meat and vegetarians’ reactions. I hope that’s all right. If you’re interested, you can find the article at: https://lupascope.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/are-you-eating-3d-printed-meat/

    Best Wishes,


  2. Alan Braganza says:

    The concept, development and eventual production of in-vitro meat of several domesticated livestock promises numerous benefits some of which are: reduced animal pain and suffering through farming and slaughter; reduced dependency on developing farmland for livestock so old growth forests and irreplaceable rainforests need not be converted to farmland; much reduced emissions from livestock populations which contribute to climate change and sea level rise; and the animal welfare implications of carne sans carnage grown cost effectively, globally and for wise and healthful consumption so as to counter heart disease, cancers and obesity in humans. Now as long as humans do not continue to overpopulate this shrinking world, perhaps human beings may have a promising and honourable future.

  3. دردشة says:

    many born digital records you can’t interact with them or view them unless you have the original environment (or a virtual one) in which to experience them. Lots to think about here.

  4. I’m reading with absolute astonishment , some observations from readers on this blog. Leaving appart the ethics or the God concepts, I like to contribute this small observation. We are working in our labs on development of cell cultures. One does not clone animals to develop its meat. One just takes some sample trough byopsee with a needle. One purifies the cell put it in medium and feeds it to grow. Till a couple of years ago , we worked with animal growt serum. But today we developed syntetic serum from several products provided by nature. So no genetic modification, no funny Hokus Pocus. Simply put a purified cell in an adequate medium and it wil start growing. Todays research focusses on methods to copy the form of the meat as we know it. We develop scaffolding systems , natural coloring, adding taste from natural sources. Take into account that within 50 years human population on earth will pass 7 billion. Where will we find all the land to feed that population and the cattle as well? So part of the meat production will have to come from industrial culturing. That meat looks , smells and tasts like meat, but it takes much less resources per ton consumable meat.

  5. Inferdramon says:

    Actually, I feel no guilt when I eat a cheeseburger or some chicken. The notion that people who aren’t vegetarians or vegans “feel guilt” when they eat a “carnivorous meal” is insane and quite inaccurate. I like meat, and I’m sure as heck not going to feel any kind of guilt eating them. Why should I? I’m not the one who killed them; I’m merely a “scavenger”.

    And no, animals killed for meat are not “murdered”; don’t mix up the term. Murder is strictly a human term, for when a human wrongfully kills another human. You can’t call people who kill animals for food “murderers”, because they are not.

    However, I am in support of in vitro meat. I don’t mind eating it, especially if it’ll be healthier. It’ll be easier to produce, less space would be required, etc. I’m also in support of in vitro toxicology, which would eliminate the need of animal testing, and likely produce faster, more accurate results.

    I’m also in support of vertical farming, which involves growing crops in urban cities in tall buildings. This would reduce the amount of land destroyed for farming crops. It would also put peace of mind on people who are iffy about where their food comes from.

  6. Max Riley says:

    in vitro meat is the answer to all my prayers for stop the killing and sufference for all animals. I hope this will become reality before I die, so that I can leave this brutal planet in peace.

  7. Tangent says:

    While synthmeat may very well cause significant reductions in the eating of biological meat, it won’t cease it. At the very least you’ll continue to see people hunting deer and elk (and other wild herbivores) as the animals need to be culled (due to the extermination of predators that originally did that job and the irrational fears of people who consider predators a threat due to their tendency to snatch up pet cats and dogs, and in theory children). In addition, hunting is as much a form of social activity as it allows small groups of people to get together in the wild and face the elements while seeking out some rather wily animals (yes, there are groups of hunters who go out in the wild to get drunk and the like… but there are plenty more who go out there looking to hunt and in a sense reconnect with the land).

    Likewise there will be plenty of people who prefer “natural” meat to synthmeat, no matter what the flavour and texture. You could even give them a blind taste test and they’d refuse to admit the synthmeat was as good as (or better than) natural meat even if they chose the synthmeat in the test.

    Farmed animals will continue in the dairy and egg industries as well, even if synthmeat ends up a superior product to natural meat. You’ve not heard of people developing artificial milk at this juncture, or of artificial eggs that include a self-contained yolk and an artificial egg shell. Even if such products arrive in time (and I’d think that artificial orange juice would appear before artificial milk and eggs, due to the tendency of severe climate events to damage orange trees at critical times – it’s likely easier (and potentially cheaper) to just create an artificial orange juice than rely on the pesticides, spraying, and harvesting of oranges), there will still be traditionalists who insist on making their cheeses with genuine milk cream and the like.

    You may see a significant reduction in cattle and poultry farms… but they will never totally go away. At the very least, 20% of existing livestock farms will remain in existence.

  8. you are all sick this lab grown meat is the worst idea i have ever heard of you would be puting thousands of people out of work just to satisfy your self righteous agenda fuck all of you

  9. Valkyrie Ice says:

    My god the ignorance of state of the art science in biotech in this thread is depressing.

    Forget the lame attempts of soyburgers and every current form of “imitation meat” They have absolutely no bearing on what IVM is.


    Get it?

    Muscle is muscle is muscle is muscle. It is growing a rack of ribs minus the rest of the cow, making a steak without having to feed, house, and clean up after a living bovine. It is using the exact same biological processes used to MAKE A COW to make JUST A PART OF ONE.

    There is no need to “add flavors” it is not “imitation” it is not “cow substitute”. It is 100% USDA Grade A BEEF.

    Minus a dead cow.

    Same will go for every type of IVM.

    Now, for the basic process go and read the first chapter of “Brave New World” and instead of growing human clones, imagine instead you are growing porterhouse steaks.

    It will be pure MEAT, with cells, DNA, oozing blood, marbled fat, and all the tasty goodness of beef, without having to slaughter a cow to get it. You could in essence eat Betsy while she’s standing outside the window chewing her cud. Her DNA would be identical to the steaks.

    And once nanotech desktop replicators come around, you won’t even need a IVM factory to grow it for you, your “Food Machine ™” will produce it for you on demand with the press of a button… right down to Betsy’s DNA.

    Sadly Mister Hyena failed to make that as clear as I would have preferred, but seriously people, spend a few days learning where we are in Biotech research before simply dissing a fairly well researched article.

    Oh, and one more thing, I’m not worried about Dairy products at all. When they can clone a steak, they can clone an udder too and produce all the Dairy without having to milk a single cow.

    It ain’t imitation, fake, artificial, synthetic, or soy when from the DNA up it’s 100% biological BEEF.

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi, Valkyrie Ice — Hank Hyena here — thanks! for your attention to my article, your enthusiasm regarding the topic, and thanks for your great assistance in informing the readers – much appreciated!

  10. Anonymous says:

    this sounds just gross. Guess I’ll have to take up hunting and fishing.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I too hope this happens – i’m tired of my arteries clogging up – bring on the artificial but good for you meat!

  12. Truthsetsyoufree says:

    Every time man tries to play God, something always goes horribly wrong.

    • Editor says:

      Every time someone says something this cliched, an angel cries in heaven… crocodile tears… oh god make it stop…



    • Anonymous says:

      However, isn’t man playing god with the life of an animal when he sends it to slaughter??

      • Truthsetsyoufree says:

        No- Man is doing what God and the Bible tell him to do-there is a difference.

        • Valkyrie Ice says:

          What God wants, God gets.

          What a sadly limited view of the Almighty you have. An infinite being possessing infinite power will be able to do whatever he wishes. If he does not want it done, it will be impossible to do.

          Man has a brain, that brain is designed to be used to understand the world around it. Failure to do so is surely not what a designer would wish, no?

          If God exists, he is capable of imposing any limits he wishes. Therefore, if it is not impossible to do, God must want it done.

          Sadly too many people use God as an excuse to justify their own failure to use their brain.

  13. DougHwrite says:

    There is an infinitely simpler was to “save the planet” in addition to eliminating competition for resources and war, reducing human disease and vastly improving everyone’s quality of life: HUMAN BIRTH CONTROL.

    • Raleigh Latham says:

      Agreed, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have kids. By the time I reach 30 because our planet will simply not be able to support 10 billion people, let alone 7! There is no way that 7-10 billion people on this planet could ever be sustained, especially when we all want to live an American lifestyle of exponential waste.

      Any time I see some idiot family with 3-6 fat kids, I shudder thinking of the standard of living that they are leaving to future generation.

      We are not insects! We are human beings! We cannot keep expanding our population or we will all crash, and life on earth will lose.

      • Hank Hyena says:

        HI Raleigh — this is Hank Hyena, author of the IVM article. Don’t worry about over-population, and have kids if you want to — I wrote a article on this topic called “To Breed? Or Not To Breed?” – it is in the Politics Section. Also, a good thing about having kids is that they might not ever die — they might be the first generation to live forever. What a nice world to bring your kids into? I wrote an article on that topic too — “Hey Kids Don’t Forget To Take My Brain Out Of The Freezer” — in the Forever Young section, I believe. Regarding population, I think we will peak at about 7.5 billion in 10 years, then it will decrease.

  14. baldrick says:

    Your optimism that this will soon take over is quaint. I recall an article in the Atlantic Magazine in the early ’90s about technologies that would revolutionize the auto. Nearly twenty years later, we are only beginning to employ the most basic elements of those “future cars.”

    You discuss all those who will be hurt or crushed by this new industry. Gee, you don’t think those big money interests will do anything to resist, do you? We are still denying global warming, and insurance companies aren’t even hiding their big money resistance to health care reform. But the enormous meat industry is going to sit quietly by while labs replace farms. OK.

    It took a lot of folks more than ten years to give the internet a try, and many of them still are too flummoxed to put it to use. I see commercials scaring and grossing out people over “sci-fi meat.” Teabagger types decrying IVM as Obama brain washing — they protested high taxes when their own tax rates were decreased, you think they will start eating lab chicken without a fight?

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi Hank Hyena here — A sausage company in The Netherlands – Stegeman – is an important funder of IVM research there. Shrewd meat distribution companies might just gradually shift the “manufacturing” of their very popular product from ranch to IVM. This resembles electrical companies buying solar energy from individuals who put up panels — “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The meat distribution companies have their buyers and infrastructure set up, so they can continue to profit if they can get IVM at the lowest price. But the big ranchers in Texas, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, they’ll be stuck… Read about the end of the whale oil industry, wiped out by kerosene, quite quickly. thanks for your comments —

    • Valkyrie Ice says:

      Do you ever eat KFC?

      You are eating lab grown chicken.

      Sure there was an outrage when it was revealed they grew headless chickens for stock. Sure it made them have to change their name to KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but are they still in business?


      Lab grown chicken.

      • Gob Bluth says:

        People still believe that KFC myth? For one, they refer to ‘chicken’ all the time.. in their marketing, commercials, menu, etc. Their rebranding had nothing to do with any kind of ‘lab chicken’.


        • Valkyrie Ice says:

          Ahh. Thank you for the correction XD. To be honest I never bothered to actually look into the story. It was one of those shrug and “omg what are they complaining about now” kinda stories.

          However, most meat products do posses significant amounts of lab research and “meddling” by chemicals and selective breeding. I’m 6″5′ even though I was a very small child. When I was 12 I moved to Texas, and ate a lot of Beef (the Texas staple)

          Years later, after I had already grown to my current size, it was revealed Bovine growth hormone, which had commonly been used at the time, also affected humans, accelerating growth to some degree and speeding up development of secondary sex characteristics in some percentage of the people eating beef or Dairy with BGH. I’ve always wondered if I would be shorter had I not lived in Texas and eaten so much beef, but I’ve never really been curious enough to look into the effects of BGH either. I’ve always been of the opinion that when children are learning how to do things, mistakes happen.

          The point I was attempting to make is that very little of the food we eat has NOT been affected in some way by laboratory research. Whether that lab work was done in a university or in a farmers field by selective breeding ages ago, there is not a single food item that we grow in agriculture or animal husbandry which has not been subjected to mutation away from it’s “natural” wild state. Wild grain has far fewer seeds per head than cultivated, wild pigs have thick hides with bristles and tusks, wild corn has much smaller ears than farmed corn.

          If you truly wanted to complain about “natural” foods, you’d need to go back and stop the first farmers from growing crops.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m expecting this product to be about as close to real beef or lamb as that “imitation crabmeat” is to real crabmeat. IE, I’ll eat it if there’s no real meat around.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Great article. Made me think some more about this. I am looking forward to seeing this come to fruition.

  17. Neal says:

    Hank, you said this earlier, “My understanding is that “flavor” will be chemically added to the in-vitro meat, and scientists regard that as the “easy part.”

    Isn’t part of you afraid that this “chemically added” flavor might be dangerous? Wouldn’t the flavor that comes from walking around a field eating grass, the way nature has been evolving cows for the past billion years, be preferable and safer?

    I completely agree that the way most animals are raised and slaughtered nowadays is awful, and the pollution that results is just as bad. However, this planet at its healthiest works when plants get energy from the sun, animals eat the plants, and animal excrement fertilizes the next set of plants. This is what happened for millions of years before humans came along.

    In modern farming it is now cheaper (partly because of subsidies) to keep animals confined to feed lots and fertilize plants with chemicals, which end up in our rivers and air. But instead of throwing a lot of untested science at this problem, why not work to get things back to the way nature intended? It would be safer and healthier for our planet to have sustainable, traditional farms like we had throughout thousands of years of our history, until about 50 years ago.

    Also, where is the raw material for all this IVM coming from? It cant just appear out of thin air, where will it come from and will it be sustainable?

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi Neal, this is Hank — there’s a large sausage company in The Netherlands, Steagmans (sp?) that’s a funder of IVM and IVM will probably appear first in sausage forms. Sausages are delicious to many, and I’m not sure how they get their flavor, part spices, part artificial flavoring, I believe. Seems to me that IVM will duplicate this. Regarding your other comments, nature didn’t “evolve cows” — people did. Cattle are descended from wild oxen the “Great Aurochs”, and all domestic animals have had their “evolution” tampered with to fulfill human needs, so have vegetables, grains, fruits. There’s nothing “natural” about the vast herds and flocks of domesticated animals, and there’s no mandate from Nature that this situation is good for the planet. Sorry, but I also don’t see ‘traditional farms” ever returning in significant numbers. I see them continuing to dwindle. I see farmscrapers, stacked hydroponic greenhouses in urban areas, tended by robots. Maybe that seems like a grim vision to you, but it seems fun, practical, healthy, and convenient to me. But thanks for your comments, sincerely.

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi Neal, this is Hank — there’s a large sausage company in The Netherlands, Steagmans (sp?) that’s a funder of IVM and IVM will probably appear first in sausage forms. Sausages are delicious to many, and I’m not sure how they get their flavor, part spices, part artificial flavoring, I believe. Seems to me that IVM will duplicate this. Regarding your other comments, nature didn’t “evolve cows” — people did. Cattle are descended from wild oxen the “Great Aurochs”, and all domestic animals have had their “evolution” tampered with to fulfill human needs, so have vegetables, grains, fruits. There’s nothing “natural” about the vast herds and flocks of domesticated animals, and there’s no mandate from Nature that this situation is good for the planet. Sorry, but I also don’t see ‘traditional farms” ever returning in significant numbers. I see them continuing to dwindle. I see farmscrapers, stacked hydroponic greenhouses in urban areas, tended by robots. Maybe that seems like a grim vision to you, but it seems fun, practical, healthy, and convenient to me. But thanks for your comments, sincerely.

  18. Cburrowz says:

    Hello Hank. Thought provoking article. I agree that in 3 to 10 years the creation of satisfactory laboratory processed IVM will occur. One thing to consider is the vast size of the meat industry. It seems to me that it will take some time to create the feed stocks (nutrients and materials used to grow IVM) plus infrastructure to replace current meat production.

    I’m positive the problems encountered will be overcome and you will see an ever increasing market for IVM but it will never replace conventional meat growing completely. We don’t need to hunt, but I’m sure more people hunt today than at any point in the past.

    While you’re at it, pass me that slice of flask flank. 😉

  19. Eric Pellissier says:

    I hope that all comes true so that there is cheap farmland once I get out of college.

  20. Valkyrie Ice says:

    *sigh* I see the naysayers are out in force today.

    Think people! We are on the verge of therapeutic clone tissue regeneration. What is going to happen is not the Asimovian vision from the SS “Good Taste” but the creation of a viable IVM product that is CLONED FROM THE ANIMAL. IVM companies are going to be competing for the purchase of DNA from the various food stock animals. They are going to be growing clone tissues of all the various muscles that make the various cuts of meat.

    Sorry to the author, but his IVM vision is a little short sighted. Right now we can only make undifferentiated tissue, but by the time IVM is practical, which may indeed be within 5 years, forced clone growth will be the method used. Look into organ printing. A refined version of that will be used to make speed cloned meat tissue, muscle and fat with only capillaries, no gristle or bones.

    Within 10 years it is possible that Speed cloned food of every type will be possible, so no need to have those Farmscrapers either. Cloning plant material is easier than cloning meat.

    I have no doubt that these visions will happen, even the futureshocky cannibals, but it will be with cloned products being produced, not undifferentiated tissue.

    You want grain fed Black Angus, you will get grain fed Black Angus, cloned from a prize winning specimen, fed with the nutrients a cows stomach would have extracted from a prize winning strain of grain, in absolutely optimum conditions.

    You can’t simply look at the barest beginnings of a technology and judge everything from that, you HAVE to be aware of all the applicable technologies and see how they will work together.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Your comments about saturated fats are completely off. They are good for you. Without saturated fats these meats will cause cancer and early aging.

  22. Justen says:

    That’s an incredibly ambitious set of predictions. I think you underestimate the latent sadism in carrion feeders (who fancy themselves descendants of predators). I suspect you’ll get a lot of “I ain’t eatin’ nothin’ that didn’t breathe and get killed natural-like!” for a long, long time into the future. I suspect there’ll be plenty of market for real meat, although Mc.Heart Attack crowd is likely to eat the stuff without even knowing it (or asking too many questions).

    @Anonymous, above: you want all that land to “go back to the earth”? Here’s a thought: buy it. With your own money. Care for it – with your own two hands. Protect it – with force if necessary. You want other people to set the opportunity inherent in all that land aside? Be prepared to pay for it. In a word, give yourself a personal investment it. Nobody else will. Sitting around, whining about what “society” ought to do will get you nowhere. Without you those animals will be hunted, shot and eaten as soon as the enviro-fetishism fad dies and that land will be put to someone else’s productive use. Stop being a hippie, start being proactive, put your money, your time, and your feet where your mouth is and stop expecting others to do it for you.

    As for me, I’m waiting with bells on. I haven’t touched an animal product in a decade. Hope it’s not a disappointment. Don’t think I’ll be eating my wife any time soon though, have fun with that, hipsters. 🙂

  23. Lewis says:

    If they can create, rich marbleized tender meat, IVF could completely dominate. If they can’t create the fat, there is no way. Fat tastes way to good for it go away, it’s the reason butter is still around even though butter substitutes are better for you.

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi, I’m Hank Hyena, the author. My understanding is that “flavor” will be chemically added to the in-vitro meat, and scientists regard that as the “easy part.” The hard part is developing the meat-like texture, especially in tougher flesh like steak and pork chops. But I agree with you, IVM success is dependent on its flavor.

      • Brandon says:

        Fat is not a flavor.

        It’s required for… wait for it… the meat-like texture, especially in tougher flesh like… wait, what steak are you eating? Steak’s deliciously tender and moist.

        • Lewis says:

          Fat is not flavor, but it is an integral part of making a good tasting savory dish, just like salt.

          Have you ever tried grade A5+ Wagyu beef (also know as Kobe if slaughtered in Japan)? It is the most tender, marbleized beef you will ever taste. It is quite expensive though, usually around $30 an ounce at a nice restaurant. The more fat in the meat will make it more tender, that’s why nice cuts of ribeye or tenderloin taste so good because they have a higher fat percentage then lets say like sirloin. Same goes for fish, tuna belly (toro) has a much higher fat percentage but then other parts of the tuna, but its tastes so much better.

      • nic0mac says:

        Hey hank, I believe the when they talk of adding flavor they are talking about replacing the marinade or rub type flavoring process by including it through out the meat, so not only would a tenderloin be on the shelf but also a dozen preseasoned versions of it. I personally cant wait to be able to order a custom flavored cut of lamb or beef.

      • sage says:

        My wonder is about the chemicals it is grown in & if it is flavoured with ‘natural flavours’, that is typically hidden msg, in hydrolyzed yeast, etc. I am all for the technology, or the end result, but what, really, is the process? What chemicals will be in this meat?

  24. Anonymous says:

    We need to make sure that that newly available land is made into vast national wildlife reserves/parks, not privatized. Nature must be given back to animals. The planet must start to heal. The negative effects of human civilization can be combated extremely if your predictions are accurate. I suspect it will usher in a bright new age of science; as biologists will have more “nature” to study.

    As an animal rights extremist, this is the best possible development. Soon, eating an actual animal will be unthinkable and disturbing. We will become a much more moral species.

  25. In Vitro meat will do to pasture grown meat what margarine did to butter. Despite nearly 50 years of food science, still the most economical way of getting the wonderfully rich flavor of butter is to milk it out of cows.

    In vitro meat will be fine for industralized meat products that just want the approximate taste & texture of meat but anybody wanting a fine steak is still going to get it from good old fashioned cows.

  26. Alex Vance says:

    “But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines. And of course, masturbatory gourmands will simply gobble their own meat.”

    You sure know how to work my gag reflex, baby.

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi, this is Hank, the author. Yes, it seems sickening, way past nose-picking. But taboos usually get experimented with, so I suspect we’ll be eating each other and ourselves.

      • Conor Jamison says:

        A very odd prospect, but there’s no necessary reason for it to be bad. I mean, if it’s done in-vitro, then there’s no death or mutilation involved, which is what I find sickening about cannibalism. As long as human flesh tastes good, I’m not completely opposed to trying some, haha!

  27. Insulted says:

    I agree that there are many benefits to having in-vitro meat, but overall I couldn’t help but read this article and feel that it was a large attack upon those that do not live in urbanite America.

    • Hank Hyena says:

      Hi Insulted, this is Hank, the author. I understand your concern and I want to tell you where I’m from and coming from. I was raised on a large family dairy farm, 350 cows — I branded cows, fed cows, helped slaughter cows & chickens & goats, I saw immense animal suffering. But I liked rural life; I spent last year living in Costa Rica in the cloud forest (I bought a cow there, too) and I have a vacation home in the redwoods of Sonoma County that I love to spend time in. I even like country music. I love rural & urban both, but I know through blood-soaked experience that giant ranches are horrible places for animals. The lovely gentle Holsteins I grew up with were generally slaughtered after 2-3 years of milk production, and then we ate them. We ate all the chicken eggs, and when the hens got too numerous, we cut off their heads and ate them too. The baby goats I wrestled with were strung up by their back feet, they twitched violently as their throats were cut. I love the taste of meat but I find animal husbandry very sad and cruel; I ate far more “pets” than one should. So I am all for ending the vast death of the 50 billion animals per year if we can eat In-Vitro instead. Plus its bad for the environment; in Costa Rica beautiful forests are chain-sawed to raise beef. A better world, in my opinion, would keep the jungles and make the meat in a less damaging way.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ugh, this sounds awful. Animals taste like the food they are given, so I can only imagine what a chunk of chemically grown meat would taste like. Not to mention it’s the marbled fat in meats that gives it the best flavor.

    Also, only about 1.2 million are employed in agriculture, fishing, and processing of farming related fields. http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs001.htm So sorry, the waves of farmers going to cities in the US already happened, largely thanks to mechanization.

    Yes, there are issues with meat production, and beyond that, providing food to the US and the world, but eating artificial meat is the last place I would look to solve that problem.

    @ 08:24 Anonymous, there are over 800 recognized breeds of cattle alone. Not to mention they serve an important purpose on marginal lands and grass lands, converting grass into protein. Without cattle or other animals to help (properly) manage them, these lands can become overgrown and not get the nutrients from the animals. I think you fail to see the animals form an important part of the life-cycle of crops, (although factory farming can be detrimental with too much waste/acreage)

    • Caewil says:

      Cloned meat is feasible, but I think the specifics will have to be worked out. As for worrying about ensuring that the meat tastes similar to the ‘natural’ kind, I have no doubt that demand will push innovation in that area. Marbling shouldn’t be particularly difficult. However, at the very least, it is going to make luncheon meat and burger patties and those nuggets at McDonalds a lot more eco-friendly. I doubt anyone notices the taste anyway. Not to mention the reduction in transport costs.

      As for the land needing animals to manage it, maybe we could plant some more forests there or start breeding… Elephants. Get rid of the cows and put some interesting animals for people to look at while driving.

      As for chemically grown meat… That’s what modern meat is anyway.

  29. Anonymous says:

    A lot more discussion is going on at http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/a5b2a/eight_ways_invitro_meat_will_change_our_lives/

    The cannibalistic touches in this article will probably futureshock most people 🙂

    • Matthew Bendyna says:

      What’s the big deal? It’s not like you’d be actually killing a human being, so I see no moral objection to it. Shocking to some people? I really wouldn’t be surprised. But, as for the people who try it, what is the issue as they are not destroying real humans?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Very nice article.
    You forgot to mention the impact on vegetarians. Now they can eat all the meat they want without feeling bad about the animals.

    • Elyse says:

      While this is true about some vegetarians being able to eat what they want of IVM. Not all vegetarians are so because of animal cruelty.

      But this is super awesome. I am completely interested in trying it (even as a vegetarian)

  31. Anonymous says:

    But what will it taste like? While I applaud this effort for its potential to have a hugely positive impact on both the environment and human health overall, if it isn’t palatable no one will want to eat it. TVP and other soy-based products have been available for decades but it is only within the last five years or so that they have improved sufficiently in terms of flavor to have gained a broader appeal. And still, they are not actually viable meat substitutes to non-vegetarians, but rather something else that is sometimes interesting. See this interesting article from Wired in April of 2008: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/invitro_meat

    Excerpt: “For all the talk of high-tech meat production, attendees of the first In-Vitro Meat Symposium didn’t put their stomachs where their mouths were. Instead of sampling early versions of in vitro meat, they stuck to local fare.”
    ‘We had some excellent Norwegian salmon, which was very tasty,’ Bennett said.”

    • analmoose says:

      well. it shouldn’t tast any different to any other meats as it is derived from exactly the same place just built to a edible ‘shape’ and decent size for consumption. In fact it should taste better as it will not be fatty and isn’t from a once living animal who was fed nothing but rubbish.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Umm, some factual errors.

    Acid rain is not caused by Ammonia. Ammonia is a base.

    The fat in the meat is where half the flavour arises. A nice marbling of fat is desirable in top grade beef.

  33. Anonymous says:

    “It will eliminate the artery-clogging saturated fat that kills us.”

    That has never been proven, you know. If anything, saturated animal fat is GOOD for us! There are plenty of people who won’t be giving up meat sans fat any time soon.

    • quintery says:

      First of all, it HAS been proven saturated fats are bad for the human body. It has also been proven that EXTREME consumption of meat isn’t natural or good for the human body, or any humanoid species(our cousins the chimps and apes are almost strictly vegetarian, any form of meat is rarely more then 1% and never more then 5% daily intake).

      Secondly Even when I ate meat, I NEVER liked the taste of fatty meat, it tasted disgusting. Why people think it makes it taste good I don’t even understand, try it without the seasonings you slather all over it to make it palatable, chances are, it wont taste as good. Might I mention, most seasonings are plant based.

      I’ve had some pretty realistic plant protein based fo-meats. I think “chemically” made lab meats would taste much better then the “live meats” raised in small, filthy, cramped, and depressing cages and being fed filth and garbage being passed off as food. Food isn’t the only factor in the flavor of meat. Your not going to find a good tasting depressed cow.

      How about getting over the flavor of that DEAD animal, and worry about your health for once. Flavor should NOT take priority over ones health, though it can exist side by side. Plus, didn’t you read the end. Hotdogs and spam, they don’t really have a distinct taste as it is.

      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html another interesting read on what IS natural for humans and what we’ve been TOLD and CONDITIONED is natural for humans.

    • Courtney says:

      Mean isn’t bad, it just needs to be properly raised, slaughtered, prepared and consumed in the way God intended. The industry has perverted nature and taken so many shortcuts. The idea of artificial meat is sick, the world is becoming one big PLASTIC sphere. Everything that once was, now isn’t.
      The definition of fake is as follows: “A thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham”. Everything I eat I wonder what man has done to ruin God’s perfection. What it would have been like in the very beginning?

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