An Italian-Rich Delito’s ‘Pasta’ in a Dense, Funnily Served Salatto’
It is a bit dense and smaller than the classic version you see in an Italian restaurant with a red-checkered tablecloths and a parmesan wheel. It is well colored on the outside, and delicious on the inside. The scent of just-cooked pork hangs in the kitchen.
Betty Farm: Growing cultivated meat in a bioreactor to save the planet, while avoiding the environmental consequences of animal rights and human rights
To cultivate meat involves taking stem cells from an animal to grow inside bioreactors. Though these biopsies are invasive, the process is less painful than many of the procedures an animal might endure during its lifetime on a farm, and, importantly, the process does not involve the animal being killed. In bioreactors the cells are put in a container filled with vitamins and minerals, and they think they are still in the animal’s body. Once the meat is grown, the product is harvested and processed into whatever form the manufacturers wish to sell. Manufacturing cost went down after the first $375,000 burger was eaten. Though still expensive compared to conventionally farmed meat, the drop in cost is radical, and set to continue. Lab-grown meat could soon be more affordable than conventionally grown animals.
Right now, enjoying a juicy steak or a crispy chicken sandwich requires turning a blind eye to the ways in which our food system harms animals and powers the climate crisis. These startups claim that we can eliminate this trade-off by reproducing animal cells in a lab and protecting our diet without compromising ethics and the Earth.
The only way companies will be able to supply restaurants and grocery stores is by breaking the code of mass production. Thanks to Betty, Ivy Farm can make about 6,000 pounds of meat a year. That’s enough red meat to cover the annual consumption of fewer than 80 Americans, according to USDA estimates for 2019.
Lab-grown meat — or “cultivated” meat, as industry insiders have settled on calling it — may sound far-fetched. It is more close to dinner plates than it has been before.
The sector has seen an explosion of funding in the past two years. Ivy Farm claims to have the biggest pilot plant in Europe, a new bioreactor dubbed Betty, and a shiny test kitchen. There’s ample space for its 50-person staff to work, perched on beanbags or meeting tables beside slogans like “We are forking fearless.”
The regulators are on board. Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration said for the first time that a lab-grown meat product is safe to eat, a milestone for the sector. Right now, Singapore is alone in allowing the sale of cultivated meat to consumers, having issued a green light in late 2020.
Ivy Farm is considering the U.S. as it’s first market, after launching sausages in Britain in 2023. It’s racing to compile the data it needs to submit its paperwork to the US Food and Drug Administration.
Despite the investment boom, the industry hasn’t figured out how to rapidly scale up production to meet demand and drive down costs. The cost to develop the first lab-grown burger was more than $300,000. Ivy Farm says it could produce a similar product for less than $50 — an improvement, but still nearly 10 times the price of a Big Mac.
There is the question of consumer appetites. While surveys indicate a willingness to try cultivated meat products, plenty of people find the concept unsettling.
“Like anything new, some people will gravitate toward the novelty and excitement and other people will wait,” said Vijay Pande of Andreessen Horowitz, who led the venture capital giant’s first cultivated meat investment earlier this year. “I think this is something where the taste and cost will go a long way.”
Demand for meat is increasing as the global population marches past 8 billion and the middle class expands in countries like China. But there’s a problem: Meeting that demand could jeopardize hopes of keeping global warming in check.
The livestock industry accounts for nearly 15% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations. The estimated 7.1 gigatons of emissions the sector churns out per year is greater than 2019 emissions from the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany combined. Razing trees for livestock grazing is also behind almost 40% of global forest loss.
Cell-Based Bioreactors: From the Skin to the Climata in the California Ivy Farm Produced from Small Animals
The way it works is fairly straightforward. Using a small animal’s skin sample, scientists are able to extract high-quality cells from different parts of the tissue. They then feed the cells with nutrients so they can grow efficiently under controlled conditions. After that, they are put in steel bioreactors, where they grow and are ready to be made into meatballs.
The sector experienced a huge breakthrough last month when the FDA backed the safety findings of Upside Foods, a startup in California making lab-grown chicken. Following additional inspections from the US Department of Agriculture, it could be cleared for sale to consumers.
There’s no guarantee the process can simply be replicated with bigger tanks, which Ivy Farm is interested in testing in the United States. The components used in the biopharmaceutical industry have been made into nutrition solutions for feeding the cells. Supplies can be limited, and they can be expensive.
The University of Bath’s professor of medical research said that most of the industry is having to use materials priced for research.
Ivy Farm: A Vegan Factory to Attempt to End Animal Exploitation and Censorship at the Fermilab Tevatron
Innovation is possible, but requires money. And startups are facing an increasingly tough economic climate, which could limit funding. According to Pitch Book, venture capitalists have poured more than $3 billion into meat startup over the past two years. But global recession fears have stoked skepticism of companies that won’t be profitable for a long time.
Ivy Farm is plowing ahead despite the gap. The company is working with Dennis Group, who have built plants for some of the biggest companies in the world, like Danone.
Meanwhile, startups from Japan to Israel and Australia are honing their products, from lab-grown beef steaks to sushi-grade salmon. The first to try these innovations will be high-end consumers, as cultivated fois gras is in the works.
Over the past few years DxE has conducted a string of such “open rescues,” in which activists record themselves, often in daylight, taking a small number of chickens, pigs, beagles and other animals from facilities where they have documented inhumane treatment. In addition to saving the lives of the animals, the rescues are an attempt to provoke law enforcement into pursuing criminal trials against the rescuers — trials in which the activists want to publicize the unseen brutality that pushed them to act.
Shouldn’t the same be true of animals we’re going to eat? Don’t we have a moral obligation to help the animals at the factory farms or not to punish people who try to help?
Ultimately, arguments against cultured meat could hamper the progress of animal liberation. Vegans should not permit this. If the goal is to end animal exploitation, then we must call lab-grown meat vegan even if it scares us.
For vegans, there should be a lot to love about this new technology. The technology has the potential to reduce animal suffering, greenhouse gas emissions, and more, and is useful in the fight against climate change.