World's first lab-grown hamburger served!

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 8 August 2013

Can you imagine a future where ‘pork’ doesn’t come from pigs; cows are no longer killed for beef, and chickens are not … well … ‘chicken’? It might be closer than you think…

The future of food?
These tech innovators have transformed the way we use the internet. Now they’re putting their funding behind sustainable animal-friendly meat.

Bill Gates Peter Thiel
Bill Gates Peter Thiel
(PayPal Co-founder)
Biz Stone Evan Williams
Biz Stone
(Twitter Co-founder)
Evan Williams
(Twitter Co-founder)

The world’s first ‘truly convincing’ lab-grown hamburger was served up in London this week. Grown using stem cells from living cows, the meat is biologically identical to beef but doesn’t require slaughter. It might be a good few years yet before lab-grown meat becomes a viable option for consumers, but the ‘world’s most expensive burger’ has certainly raised some questions about whether this is the food of the future:

Is it possible?

The brains behind this project, Professor Mark Post, said that the taste test this week was a proof-of-concept and that lab-grown meat could be readily available in the next 10 to 20 years! Funded by Sergey Brin, (one of the founders of Google), the project cost over $300,000. But Mr Brin and Professor Post, believe the cost can be brought down to something more commercially viable.

While lab-grown meat may be on the horizon, a wide range of plant-based mock meats can already be found in most supermarkets. Click here to start exploring some great cruelty-free meat alternatives.

Is it ethical?

Sergey Brin has said he was motivated to support the project because of a concern for animals. While many people imagine “pristine farms" with just a few animals on them, the reality is very different. “When you see how these cows are treated, it’s certainly something that I’m not comfortable with."

According Professor Post, lab-grown meat also has the potential to help solve many of the environmental problems facing us today. “Cows are very inefficient, they require 100g of vegetable protein to produce only 15g of edible animal protein. So we need to feed the cows a lot so that we can feed ourselves. We lose a lot of food that way. [With cultured meat] we can make it more efficient because we have all the variables under control. We don’t need to kill the cow and it doesn’t [produce] any methane."

Is it natural?

Skeptics have referred to the in-vitro meat patty as ‘Frankenburger,’ calling it the stuff of science fiction. (The idea of producing meat ‘from thin air’ was in fact envisioned in Star Trek). But is meat grown in a lab that far fetched, or ‘unnatural’ compared to some of the techniques already used on meat that is sold in supermarkets and restaurants today? Consider this…

Meat glue is commonly used within the meat industry to stick together unsellable scraps of meat, to sell as ‘prime’ cuts. According to areport on Today Tonight, “unless you’re a vegetarian, chances are you’re eating [glued meat] on a regular basis."
Watch the Today Tonight exposé »

Would you eat it?

If it looks the same, tastes the same and never harmed an animal, would you put it on your plate or recommend it to others? Long-time vegetarian and animal advocate Peter Singer says that he’d be willing to give lab-grown meat a try. What about you? Leave a comment.