The Future of Man Made Meet is Now!
Exactly three years ago to the day (January 4 2018) we published a very popular article titled VEGANS UNITE! Man Made Chicken is Going Mass-Market Soon. Soon is now today, 2021. This is the short story of how man made chicken is being sold on store shelves at prices competitive with farm grown chicken.
Don’t confuse man made chicken or lab made chicken with plant based “chicken”. We are talking about real chicken 🐔 being made in a lab 🔬 and then being mass produced in a machine.
Click to watch the video version of this article
Man Made Chicken Cost Time Line
Our story begins in 2013 when the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, partially funded by Google founder Sergei Bryn, made the worlds first cultured meat hamburger. Each hamburger cost just $300,000. Fast forward to 2019 and a company called Eat Just was able to make a single cultured chicken nugget for about $50. Zip to 2021 and Eat Just is able to sell their man made chicken “on par with high-quality chicken that could be ordered at a restaurant”.
Who is Eat Just?
Founded in 2011, Eat Just first appeared on the CNBC Disruptor 50 List in 2015 (then named Hampton Creek), with is star-studded board of directors and substantive backing of Bill Gates (Microsoft), Kathleen Sebelius (HHS Secretary), Marc Benioff (Salesforce). They had some early problems, including concerns about the safety of its products and a scheme to buy back its “JUST Mayo” product to inflate sales, but today the company has emerged as winner.
“…The company is best known for JUST Egg, a liquid egg product that is made from mung beans, a protein-rich legume. The liquid scrambles just like a chicken egg, but the company claims it uses 98% less water, emits 93% less C02 and uses 86% less land than conventional animal sources. To date, JUST has sold the plant-based equivalent of more than 40 million chicken eggs. The product is sold in Whole Foods, Fairway and other grocery-store chains across the country, as well as on Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Walmart.com. Last June the company received a patent for its functional mung bean protein.
…In February (2020) the company announced a partnership with Sodexo, a global food services and facilities management firm, to bring JUST Egg to Sodexo’s higher-education, health-care and corporate sites across the United States.”
No Chickens Were Harmed In The Making of This Nugget: How To Grow Man Made Chicken?
The cells of a real chicken were extracted from a tiny clipping from a single feather of the bird, mixed in with a fluid that provides the needed nutrients to allow the cells to grow and then put into a machine called a bioreactor which is where the cells multiply and turn into… well, real chicken meat.
Why is Cultured Chicken Better Than Farmed Chicken?
Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick told TheVeganKind.com in December of 2020:
“…We think that [the way] to really solve the meat problem — which is a health problem, a deforestation problem, a morality problem — is to make animal protein,”
A 2020 study found that lab grown meat uses about 99% less land, 90% less water and emits 85% green house gases.
The issue were were not able to find numbers on related to energy. Producing chicken meat in a machine, surely consumes some power, but how much we were not able to find. We did find the chart below from 2010 which shows that farming chicken energy intensive so we suspect that cultured chicken is requires substantially less energy.
What Are The Problems with Cultured Chicken and Beef?
There are several outstanding issues with man made meats:
- That fluid which provides the initial nutrients to the chicken cells comes from cows and so the process is not completely vegetarian and certainly not vegan. However, it is believed plant based catalyst will be developed within a few years.
- The cost is still at the top range of farmed meat but that should drop quickly as production volume grow (pun intended)
- Cultured meats have a problem incorporating fat and as my high school ‘home economics’ teacher used to put it “fat is flavor”
- The texture of cultured meats is not the same as farmed meat and peoples mouths are very sensitive to texture
Today in 2021 there are ways of 3D printing cultured meat to improve the texture and the fat issues, but there is still work to be done:
What is the Future of Cultured Meat?
The obvious points are that cultured chicken, pork and beef will likely have substantial positive impacts on the environment and some peoples ethical concerns about farmed meats. However, beyond the desire of humans on earth for high protein meat products, think about what this means for deep space travel or even colonization of other plants like Mars.