There is a lot of discussion these days about the negative effects of eating meat, from harming animals to driving climate change. But in response to the growing influence of conscious consumers, activists and other groups, innovators around the world have been developing new technologies to address ethical concerns linked to meat and to mitigate the industry’s adverse environmental impact.
You may have heard about cultivated meat (also known as cultured meat or lab-grown meat) in the context of alternative meat solutions. While the cultivated meat industry is still in its infancy, many are searching for clarity about what lab-grown meat is and what advantages it can bring to the table.
In this post, we will provide answers to some of your pressing questions—from what is cultivated meat, to what advantages it has over conventionally-farmed meat. We hope that these answers will support conscious decisions around meat consumption and shed light on a delicious, safe and sustainable future of food.
Supply Chain: Cultured Meat vs. Conventional Meat
Conventionally farmed meat arrives on our plates following a long and increasingly unsustainable process. The process begins on farms where animals are bred and raised before being sent off for slaughter, processing and distribution to grocery stores and restaurants. Today, supply chain disruptions are driving up prices and affecting the availability of meat. In the meantime, global demand for meat is rising making it harder for the industry to meet consumer expectations.
To fill the gap, innovators have been revolutionizing agriculture as we know it by cultivating meat directly from animal cells. Cultivated meat is meat that does not require any farming, slaughtering, or harming of animals. Instead, it is developed from animal cells sourced from a donor animal a single time. These cells are then cultivated in stainless steel fermentation tanks—much like what you would see in a beer brewery—before they are formed into the familiar meat cuts you know and love. Cultivated meat technology can significantly reduce the complexities of the conventional supply chain and is predicted to be more responsive to the ever-growing market demand for meat.
How is Cultured Meat Made?
Cultured meat technology begins by sourcing cells from an animal. These cells are then grown in a stainless-steel cultivator—also called bioreactors—which mimics the environment that allows for the natural cellular growth process that happens inside an animal. Cultivators are clean environments that provide cells the same physiological conditions they would find in an animal, from pH and oxygen levels to temperature and constant motion.
Once the cultivators reach a desired cell density, they are harvested and formed into the recognizable meat products we love to eat, from chicken strips to beef patties.
Why Do We Need Cultivated Meat?
Cultivated meat isn’t only a groundbreaking innovation; it is also a crucial solution for our global food system and the planet at large. Here is a snapshot of some of the major advantages that cultivated meat offers.
1. Better for Animals
This benefit is pretty clear and convincing. The process of creating and producing cultivated meat does not harm animals. The cells, which are extracted a single time from a donor animal, can produce cultured meat indefinitely. This eliminates the need for countless harmful procedures used in traditional farming, not to mention slaughter itself.
2. It Frees Up Land
Livestock meat production requires approximately 70% of global arable land used for growing livestock feed. Cultivation of animal cells can enable production of meat without needing to raise farmed animals, which require smaller quantities of agricultural resources like land. Land used for meat production can be reduced by 99%!
3. Less Water Usage
Just 1 kg of beef requires 15,415 liters of fresh water to produce just 1 kg of beef. Cultivated meat water usage can be reduced by 82%-96% depending on the product.
Cultured meat production uses considerably fewer water resources compared to conventional meat production. Research has shown that agriculture is responsible for 92% of our water usage, and that.
4. Accessibility to Food
Our global population stands at more than 7 billion people, with expectations to surpass 9.5 billion by 2050. This means that more food will need to be produced to sustain future generations. Today, natural resources, such as land, water and livestock, are limited. Studies show that it will become impossible to raise enough animals to feed the entire population in the years to come. Cultivated meat will increase access to food and, as a result, can potentially reduce world hunger. Cultivated meat uses a fraction of the natural resources used by conventional meat and does not require the raising or slaughtering animals because sourced cells grow indefinitely. This means that cultivated meat can feed our growing global population indefinitely.
5. Humans Love Eating Meat
There is a growing demand for meat worldwide that is not showing any sign of slowing down. In fact, meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the past two decades and forecasts predict that demand for livestock protein will rise by 13% before the end of this decade. The higher the demand, the more pressure the supply chain will have to endure to meet them. Today, we understand the value in coming up with alternative solutions for conventional meat. Cultivated meat provides another meat protein option that can alleviate pressure from conventional supply chains while using considerably fewer natural resources to produce meat.
Is Cultivated Meat Nutritious?
Cultivated meat can arguably be healthier than conventional and alternative meat products. As the cultivated meat industry works with regulators for approval, companies like ours are working on producing meat with the same or better nutritional value of farmed meat.
For our part, Believer is striving to become the protein of choice for everyone around the world by focusing on food safety and nutrition, and ensuring that when our meat hits the market, it delivers the full sensory experience meat lovers crave. Crucially, we’re also laser focused on keeping Believer meat affordable and within reach to diners everywhere. Scaling accessibility, we believe, will scale our positive impact for people, animals and the planet.
The Future of Meat is Here
The many advantages of cultivated meat make clear that, at scale, the burgeoning industry stands to revolutionize the future of food. We are thrilled to be part of the revolution and are well on our way to offering conscious consumers delicious, sustainable, slaughter-free meat—the meat they know, love and crave; only better.