Lab-Grown Meat: The Food of the Future

Del microscopio al plato, la carne sintética está revolucionando la industria alimentaria. Esta empresa californiana se ha convertido en una de las primeras en comercializar carne que no procede de animales vivos, sino de sus células cultivadas en el laboratorio.

Bandera UK
Daniel Francis

Speaker (UK accent)

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468 Lab Grown Meat C UPSIDE FOODS

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There is a restaurant  in San Francisco where you can order chicken that doesn’t come from an actual bird. US regulators have approved the sale of meat made from animal cells; it isn’t vegan alternative made from plants, it’s actual chicken, made from chicken cells that come either from a living animal, a fertilised egg or a special bank of stored cells that are grown in steel tanks. As it is cultivated outside an animal’s body, there is no need to breed, feed or slaughter animals.

more ethical

Advocates of cultivated meat say that it not only eliminates the suffering of animals bred for their meat, but that the impact made on the environment is radically reduced. Globally, more than 150 companies are working on producing cultivated meat, not just chicken but also beef, pork, lamb, duck and even seafood. Last summer, the US Department of Agriculture authorised two companies based in California, UPSIDE Foods and Good Meat, to sell cultivated meat, specifically chicken. 

Lab Grow Meat


The two companies have introduced their chicken through two restaurants: UPSIDE Foods through Bar Crenn in San Francisco, California and Good Meat through China Chilcano in Washington, D.C.In time, they plan to sell other types of meat too, in both restaurants and supermarkets nationwide


To find out more, Speak Up met with Eric Schulze, vice president of global regulatory and public policy with UPSIDE Foods. The company operates a 53,000-square-foot facility in the city of Emeryville near San Francisco, and plans to expand its operations in the near future. Schulze began by explaining how cultivated meat is different from vegan alternatives:

Eric Schulze (American accent): The difference is simply that we are actual meat. This is the same muscle tissue, connective tissue and fat you would find in an animal, just produced differently. So compared to a plant-based alternative, it is the opposite of that. It is not an alternative to meat. It is meat. The only alternative part of this process is just simply the method by which we produce it, which is in a cultivation system rather than an animal’s body. We’ve had over a thousand people try it over the years, and I myself helped design the product. So I’ve been eating it routinely, as a meat-eater. And I think the simple answer is, it’s chicken. I mean, as beautifully mundane as that is. It’s chicken and it tastes just like it.


In traditional red and white meat production, animals and birds may be treated cruelly, pumped up with hormones, and exposed to nasty pesticides. Cultivated meat can be a healthy and ethical alternative.

Eric Schulze: The entire production process is controlled and every variable, more or less, can be monitored from the beginning, from the choice of the cells to all of the final characteristics, the nutritionals of the product, there’s a lot more control and in this case, elimination of things that aren’t needed in order to keep an animal healthy. The idea that you’re keeping animals off the hoof is another tool in fighting climate change.


As yet, there are few cultivated meat products available. But Schulze believes this will change within a decade or two.

Eric Schulze: A fair estimate is somewhere in five years or less. Eventually, over the next five to twenty years, we have multiple species and multiple products, and you can buy any type of cultivated meat that you desire.


The idea of cultivated meat may be off-putting for some, admits Scultze, but eat it every day and you’ll end up not noticing the difference.

Eric Schulze: As a professional scientist myself, I think it’s really important to admit that this is a new idea and it can be a bit odd to think about. When we think about meat, we think about an animal. This is the first time that the idea of meat isn’t linked directly to an animal. So I just think one, education and exposure is really important for consumers. For me, eating it every day, I don’t even think about it anymore because it’s just meat to me.  And the people that have [tried it] overwhelmingly love it because again, we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure this is just a chicken. If you just don’t like the taste of meat… then you’re not going to like this product. It tastes like meat. Tastes exactly like it. So that’s not for you. But for the vast majority of people on this planet, nine out of ten people on this planet, this will meet exactly their taste buds.


And, he claims, the agricultural community will adapt to and may even profit from this scientific innovation. 

Eric Schulze: Interestingly, the agricultural community historically has been the metronome of human progress. We found ways to feed more and more people more efficiently or cheaper through technological and scientific innovation. And they recognise that this is just another step in that innovation. Meat demand is going to double by 2050 and there’s a large share of the pie that’s available.


So, how do vegans feel about it?

Eric Schulze: It’s a wonderful debate in the animal rights and vegan community as to whether this product is vegan or not. I’ve heard many arguments. Our official position is these products are not vegan, they are animal products. However, I’ve heard compelling arguments that they could be considered vegan. That said, if you don’t like the taste of animal meat, this isn’t going to win you over. If you’re an ethical vegan or you, for any reason, you have an ethical abhorrence, but you do enjoy meat products and protein, we’re going to be right up your alley. But to be candid, the most important consumers of this product are meat-eaters, the nine out of ten people on this planet.

A HUGE WIN for the planet

While it may not replace the traditional meat industry entirely, cultivated meat offers meat-eaters an authentic and ethical alternative.

Eric Schulze: As a reluctant omnivore, as a proud Texan as well I am motivated to find another way to eat meat. I know that I’m not of strong will enough to not [eat meat]. I consider myself a reducetarian and find ways to reduce my consumption of meat. However, I know I’m not going to give it up completely, and I feel like a lot of people feel the same way I do. And instead of shaming folks like myself into finding a new way to doing it, I think giving them an alternative that meets all of their demands, a lot of people will jump on that. If it’s the right price, if it’s available and it tastes great, I think a lot of people are going to switch over to it, and I think it’ll be an easy switch for most people, in which case that’s a huge win for us as an industry and [for] the planet. 

468 march 2024 ESP

Este artículo pertenece al número de march 2024 de la revista Speak Up.

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