The last time I checked into the progress of lab-grown meat, it was still expensive and didn’t taste so good. But times are a-changin’. Mosa Meats, makers of fine lab-grown meat, estimates the current cost to be just over $10 for a hamburger and expect it to be commercially available in 3 to 4 years.
Why lab-grown meat?
Farm-raised meat is a major contributor to climate change, resource depletion and other environmental ills. And it requires an enormous amount of land and is cruel to animals. Lab grown meat avoids all those moral and environmental harms which are increasingly a threat to the planet. We’ve been trying to make plant-based burgers that taste like meat for decades with no success so that doesn’t seem to be a viable option. Demand for meat is expected to grow exponentially, to unsustainable levels, and since it doesn’t appear we are inclined to give up meat, the only option is to make it via a process that won’t harm the environment.
Of course the big question about lab grown meat is does it taste good. According to Mosa Meats, thanks to refinements in their technology, cultured meat now tastes like ordinary meat. Of course, they might be a wee bit biased so some independent taste tests would be welcome. But they are right that the molecular structure of cultured meat is the same as meat from cows. There is no reason why it should not taste like meat, since it is indeed meat. Muscle-specific stem cells are taken from a cow and are encouraged to self-organize into muscle tissue, which is then grown in the lab, eventually finding its way to your plate. It is biologically identical to meat that comes from a cow, pig or chicken.
The biggest hurdle will undoubtedly be the “yuk” factor. A room full of oozing, bulging “flesh plants” is anything but appetizing. But have you been to a slaughterhouse recently? The “Yuk” factor objection is not really a serious obstacle. Test-tube babies are real persons, cars manufactured by robots are real cars, seedless fruits are propagated using a culturing process, so why the “yuk” factor with manufactured beef? If it’s affordable and tasty plenty of people will buy it cutting the demand for livestock generated meat and eventually sending commodity livestock farming into a death spiral.
Predictions about the timing of technological advances are always dicey. But if I were looking for long-tern investment opportunities, it wouldn’t be looking at livestock.