Lab-Grown Meat Is Coming Sooner Than You Think — And People Are Into It

Photo by Sara Remington

Would you eat meat that comes from a petri dish?

That's the question that Faunalytics, a nonprofit research organization, and the Good Food Institute posed in a new survey on 1,200 Americans. And the answers they got could hint at a new future for the food industry.

Most participants had never heard of "clean meat" before—i.e., meat that comes from animal cells but is grown in a lab—but after hearing more about it, 66 percent of them said they were willing to try it at least once, and 46 percent said they'd buy it regularly. The key, researchers found, lies in the messaging.

While names like "in vitro meat" and "lab meat" can read as off-putting, unnatural, and just downright gross, "clean meat" gets at the real point of the product: to grow meat without the antibiotics and hormones you'd find on a factory farm. Challenging people's perceptions of "natural" and posing the idea that most feedlots call on inherently unnatural practices was the most effective way to market this product, the survey found.

Leading with the potential environmental benefits of growing meat in a lab worked too, and 73 percent of those polled walked away confident that it would feed a growing world using less land and water and fewer carbon emissions.

Today, there are a handful of players in the clean meat game, and they each have different estimates for when their product will be ready for public consumption. Memphis Meats, which is backed by Tyson Foods, aims to get its cruelty-free poultry products into grocery stores by 2021, Finless Foods wants its lab-grown bluefin tuna to hit the market by late 2019, and JUST Meat and Mosa Meat say their meat will be available as soon as later this year.

"Part of it is really that I think everybody in the industry, at least the people I’ve talked to, realize that livestock meat production will become a problem, and there’s currently no good solution for it," Mark Post, the Dutch stem-cell researcher who founded Mosa Meat, told Fast Company of the inspiration for his product. To start, he will unveil his clean meat hamburger in specialty restaurants across Europe.

When lab-grown meat does hit our plates, it will likely take the form of burgers and ground beef first, since researchers haven't yet figured out how to produce fatty cuts of meat like steak in a lab. And the price of these products will likely continue to go down as the technology used to help animal cells multiply and turn into muscle tissue becomes more affordable (but right now, Post says his burger could retail for around $10).

Considering the National Academy of Sciences predicts that clean meat will be one of the buzziest biotech products of the next decade, we're probably about to hear a lot more about this, um, juicy topic.

Next up, check out the meat alternative that Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Gates have invested in.

And do you want to learn how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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