People are becoming more educated about cultivated meat advantages. A few years ago, not many people knew about the lab-grown meat alternative to conventionally-grown meat let alone the names of lab-grown meat companies. Today, major influencers are talking about it.
On a recent episode of the All-In podcast, hosts Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks and David Friedberg discussed the potential of cultivated meat to revolutionize the food industry and its promising implications for sustainability, health and animal welfare.
They also explored cultured meat pros and cons in terms of scaling up production and bringing products to market. The hosts provided insight into the current state of research and development in this space, as well as their own perspectives on the future of cultivated meat.
Through the back and forth with the other hosts, it was clear that the All-In podcast got many things right, but also missed a couple key points about cultivated meat advantages and where the industry is headed. So let’s dig into it.
What is Cultivated Meat?
Before diving into cultured meat pros and cons and what the All-In podcast got right and missed, it is important to have a solid understanding of what cultivated meat is, its advantages and how it is actually made.
How is Lab-Grown Meat Made?
Cultivated meat, also known as cultured meat or lab-grown meat, is real meat that is produced by combining animal cells with a plant-based structure. Cultivated meat is produced in a controlled lab environment, which means it is not vulnerable to many of the food safety risks associated with conventionally-grown meat.
Cultured meat technology begins by sourcing cells from an animal. These cells are then grown in bioreactors—which mimic the environment that allows for the natural cellular growth process that happens inside an animal.
Cultivated meat has the potential to be a more sustainable and ethical way to produce meat. Generally speaking, it requires less land, water and energy than traditional livestock farming, and it can produce less greenhouse gasses or animal waste.
When Can I Buy Cultivated Meat?
While there is no concrete timeline on when people will be able to buy cultivated meat, there have been several recent developments that show the food category is gaining momentum.
Singapore remains the only country to have approved the sale of cultivated meat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though, recently gave a key stamp of approval to our friends at Upside Foods and GOOD Meats, bringing both cultivated meat companies one step closer to serving their products to U.S. consumers.
We at Believer Meats broke ground on our first U.S. commercial-scale production facility, which is poised to be the largest in the world capable of producing at least 22 million pounds of meat a year for consumers across the U.S. and beyond.
When exactly lab-grown meat hits the market depends on a range of factors, including speed of regulatory approvals, how effectively companies can scale their operations and how willing consumers are to embrace cultivated meat.
What are the Benefits of Cultivated Meat?
Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown, is produced from animal cells in a laboratory. As such, it is becoming increasingly popular due to its potential benefits for both human health and the environment.
One of the most significant advantages of cultivated meat is that it does not involve animal slaughter. This means that there is no need for animals to suffer in order to produce food, which makes it an ethical choice for many people. Additionally, because it is grown in a controlled environment, it can be free from hormones and antibiotics, making it potentially healthier than traditional meats.
Another benefit of cultivated meat is its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and land use compared to traditional livestock farming. Studies show that if cultivated meat was produced using renewable energy sources, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 92%. This could have a major impact on climate change and help protect our planet’s resources.
Cultivated meat also has the potential to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses such as E. coli, because it is grown in a controlled laboratory environment, which eliminates many of the risks associated with producing and consuming animal products.
Finally, cultivated meat has the potential to be as affordable as conventionally-grown meats due to its lower production costs.
Believer Meats recently announced a non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world's leading agricultural processors and food ingredient providers. This agreement could usher in a new era of affordability in cultivated meat.
Overall, cultivated meat offers many potential benefits over conventionally-grown meat, including less animal suffering, reduced environmental impact, improved human health outcomes and affordability. For these reasons, many believe that this type of food will become even more popular in the future.
Which Advantages of Cultivated Meat did the All-In Podcast Get Right?
Cultivated meat received its due time during the All-In podcast. The hosts had an enlightening discussion, particularly for people not familiar with lab-grown meat. They did accurately highlight a few advancements in cultivated meat technology and its transformative potential as it pertains to the meat industry.
They recognized the ability of lab-grown meat to address pressing sustainability concerns and minimize the environmental impact of meat production. They highlighted its potential to reduce land and water usage, while mitigating the adverse effects associated with conventional animal agriculture, including significant greenhouse gas emissions.
Much of the hosts' discussion, though, focused on a few key cultivated meat advantages that we are seeing now and and expect to see more of in the future:
1. Cultivated Meat’s Environmental Impact
One of the most exciting cultivated meat advantages is its potential to mitigate the negative impacts of animal agriculture. Lab-grown meat production can significantly reduce the environmental impact associated with conventionally-grown beef by minimizing land and water usage, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy requirements.
Switching to cultivated meat can reduce the environmental impact associated with conventional animal agriculture and make our planet a better place for future generations. This is key, as All-In points out, because as people’s GDP rises, so too does their protein consumption. If they are opting for lab-grown meat, then the impact on the environment is greatly mitigated.
2. Cultivated Meat Taste and Texture
Cultivated meat will only have the impact we want it to have on the food industry if it is something we all crave. Believer believes that cultivated meat should not just be "good enough," but it should excel in both taste and texture, otherwise there is no incentive for consumers to switch from conventional animal-based products.
All-In host David Friedberg rightly talked about some of the gains made in taste and texture by the cultivated meat industry. At Believer, our goal is to make our meat rival, if not exceed, that of conventionally-grown meat. Once we grow the biomass, we combine it with other ingredients to give it the shape, feel, texture and taste of conventionally-grown meat. In fact, because our meat is grown in a controlled environment, the taste and texture will be much more consistent, providing people with the perfect bite every time.
3. Cultivated Meat Industry Transparency
At Believer, we strive to provide our customers with complete transparency about all aspects of our production process, from the sourcing of our ingredients and how those ingredients are used in our process. We have even detailed how we use bioreactors in our process.
All-In hosts alluded to the need for transparency. We agree that our customers should understand what they are eating and how it is made, so they can make their own decisions about the food they eat and how that food is impacting the world.
How Will Cultivated Meat Be Scaled? Where the All-In Podcast Fell Short
The All-In podcast hosts discussed various elements of scaling lab-grown meat. And this is where their discussion fell a little short. For instance, they spoke as if fetal bovine serum (FBS) is necessary in most or all cultivated meat processes. However, this is not entirely true, as companies, such as Believer Meats, are now producing cultivated meat without the use of FBS.
Additionally, the hosts spoke about cultivated meat as if it is a single product, when in fact there are many different types of cultivated meat products.
Is Lab-Grown Meat Healthy?
Finally, the hosts spoke about their concern regarding the chemicals used in cultivated meat. While David Friedberg touched on the fact that chemicals are in everything we consume, there was an opportunity to dive deeper into this subject.
This would have given people a more comprehensive understanding of what is in lab-grown meat and compare that with conventionally-grown meat. If given the time, David Friedberg could have spoken about the ingredients that cultivated meat and conventionally-grown meat already share, such as soy, corn starch, and vitamins and minerals
Believer Meats' Perspective
Cultivated meat has the potential to revolutionize the meat industry by providing a more sustainable and ethical source of meat production. Believer supports the advancements being made in cultivated meat technology and recognizes its potential to address some of the key challenges facing the meat industry today.
In addition, we believe that labeling will be key in the cultivated meat industry to inform consumers what they are buying. Products like pork, beef and chicken can still be produced using traditional animal farming techniques alongside lab-grown alternatives, and labels will make the distinction clear for consumers.
It is true that there are some hurdles we and the cultivated meat industry need to overcome. But we have made significant progress in the last few years alone and expect the pace of progress to only increase.
Overall, the latest episode of the All-In Podcast provided an interesting look into the future of the meat industry with the advancements being made in cultivated meat technology. At Believer, we are excited about cultivated meat advantages and believe its associated technology has the potential to transform the industry for the better. Join us in creating a better future for meat—and get first dibs on product launches, giveaways, and more by signing up to our newsletter.