Laboratory meat for everyone – also for vegetarians ?!

What is actually behind meat from the laboratory? We clarify and want to know from you: Is laboratory meat the perfect alternative for vegetarians?

Whether soy sausage or tofu schnitzel – you can now find veggie products as meat substitutes in almost every supermarket and discounter. If you believe Tönnies , one of the largest meat companies in Germany, more and more people are avoiding the veggie departments. Tönnies launched its own veggie products three years ago, but recently stopped production. The hype is over, they say.

While meat substitutes seem to be losing their appeal, news is spreading about the next big thing: meat from the laboratory. The impetus for this was given in 2013 by a Dutch research team with the first burger rissole to be grown in a laboratory. The researchers took a single muscle cell from a cow and had it split several trillion times in a growth bath. The result is called “in vitro meat” (from Latin in vitro : in the glass) or clean meat and could be the future of global meat consumption.

No factory farming, no antibiotics

The greatest benefit of laboratory meat is that the animal that the stem cell is taken from escapes the slaughterhouse. In addition, with in-vitro meat as a mass product, the problem of antibiotics in meat becomes superfluous, since factory farming would be a thing of the past. Stem cell researcher Andreas Trumpp from the German Cancer Research Center also makes it clear that meat does not pose a cancer risk. So overall, it could be a more sustainable alternative to “real” meat. Sounds like the perfect product, doesn’t it? 

Unfortunately it isn’t – at least not yet. Despite enormous progress, production still consumes too much energy and the finished meat is a long way off from a mass-market price. While the Dutch research team announced in 2015 that they had reached a price of around 70 euros per burger patty, in 2017 it was said that the burger could now be brought to market for around 10 euros.

For vegetarians who abstain from meat for ethical reasons, in vitro meat is not yet a real alternative. The reason is that a crucial component of the growth bath in which the laboratory meat is made is the serum of the blood of calf fetuses. Blood is drawn directly from the heart of the fetus – an operation they will not survive. The Dutch research team is already working on a plant-based alternative.

The meat of the future – also for vegetarians? 

Numerous applicants are already fighting to be the first to conquer the market with in-vitro meat. As things stand at present, however, the Dutch researchers are expecting the laboratory meat to be ready for the market in 2021 at the earliest. Then it could solve a global problem that will continue to grow in the coming years: the ever increasing meat consumption and the associated environmental pollution.

The question still remains whether in-vitro meat will also be of interest to vegetarians in the future. This is where you are asked, dear vegetarians of the chef community: Imagine you are presented with a perfect piece of meat that comes from a single, painlessly removed cell of a happy cow. At the same time, research is so advanced that the plant-based growth bath is based. Do you grab a knife and fork and try? 

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