Climate change isn’t fun, and it's a real, undeniable fact. One of the major contributors to global warming is the production of meat, beef more than any other. In recent years, climate activists have pushed towards a new alternative: lab grown and plant-based artificial meat.
Over the last few years, artificial meat has started to make waves throughout the culinary industry. However, will lab grown or plant-based alternatives ever replace traditional cuts? And could it happen in the near future?
Is artificial meat our future?
Artificial meat is already becoming popular as an alternative to meat. However, it's important to separate non-vegan lab grown meats from vegetarian and vegan friendly plant-based offerings. For comparison, lab grown meats are grown from cultivated animal cells; plant-based is a collection of plant proteins designed to replicate meat.
In recent years, plant-based meat has become very commonplace. The faux cuts have not only become major parts of super markets, but have even made their way into restaurants such as Burger King, White Castle, KFC and more.
In a talk at Web Summit 2020, Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown explained that plant-based meats are only getting more realistic and more popular. Brown believes that by 2035, more people will be eating artificial versions of meats than foods from slaughter houses. He said:
“Our mission is to completely replace the use of animals as a food technology by 2035. We’re dead serious about it. We totally believe it’s doable.”
However, while plant-based meats may end up becoming a popular rival to animal products, lab grown meats will have a much tougher time reaching those heights.
The issues of lab grown meats
There has been a lot of talk over consumer willingness to try lab grown meat, let alone make it a daily part of their diet. However, while many are scared to try out cultivated meat grown from animal cells, there are a lot of people who are interested, and the interest is growing.
In a 2022 study by Food.gov, a third of UK meat eaters would be willing to eat lab grown artificial meat. In comparison, just two years prior, 72% of Australians were unwilling to try the fake meats at all.
Of course, Food.gov’s study did have a large number of people unwilling to touch the food. Not only did 49% of interviewees claim they found it off-putting, but 37% couldn't see a reason to eat lab-grown meat at all.
Furthermore, there are still issues with lab grown cultivated meats. Research has shown that mass production of artificial meat may be ethically superior, but it will not help climate change as much as some believe. After all, part of the reason meat production is so mad for the climate is down to sheer scale.
The path for artificial meat is still yet to be determined. While plant-based foods are certainly climbing in popularity, the same has yet to be said for lab-grown foods.