back to article Welcome to cultured meat – not pigs reading Proust but a viable alternative to slaughter

At the second annual Cultured Meat Symposium in San Francisco on Friday, donuts featured prominently on the breakfast menu and lunch involved only plant-based options. Attendees the day before had the opportunity to sample mechanically prepared beef burgers, courtesy of robo-restaurateur Creator, but lab-fabbed meat didn't make …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

    That's for sausages. You need a Petri dish for burgers.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

      And the scary thing is they can be cooked by being petri-fried.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

      Speak for yourself, I use graduated cylinders for my sausage.

      1. Benson's Cycle
        Paris Hilton

        Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

        This cannot be unseen.

        Icon: an ungraduated cylinder.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

          I was going to check if Ms Hilton attended a university at any point, but doing a Find for 'education' on her Wikipedia entry has given me a new definition for 'pointless activity'. Although it DID actually turn up one solitary result; when she failed to attend a court ordered 'alcohol-education' course.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

        Postgraduate sausages

      3. osakajin

        Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

        Fnar fnar

    3. Tikimon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

      Nor the rest of the cow! When a cow is slaughtered, it's not just for meat. Every part of the cow is used for something, and has an industry waiting to turn it into something useful. So while we're figuring up how green and efficient synthetic beef will be, someone do the math on finding alternates for the the dozens of non-meat products we get/make from cows. How green would those replacements be once the natural source is lost? Everyone is myopically focused on "meat" so that's all anyone talks about.

      Don't get me wrong. I think synthetic meat is a great idea but I suspect it will be an additional source of meat, not replace cows entirely.

      1. SimonC

        Re: You can't grow burgers in a test tube.

        Interesting, I never actually thought of that.

        Although presumably they can use the same tech on any kind of cell, so you can still have your hot dog sausages, they'll just make hoof cells instead of rump steak cells.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    While this can definitely lead to progress in terms of animal welfare, I think it is likely to open up a whole new can of worms as far as food quality for the masses is concerned, after all corporations large enough to be able to invest in industrial scale cell culture are primarily concerned with profit not the relative health of their customers.

    Besides, my feeling is to grow a decent burger you need a cow.

    I would be interested to see some genuine and honest assessments regarding environmental advantages/disadvantages on such technology.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Mmm!

      A can of worm spaghetti!

      1. SimonC

        Re: Mmm!

        How would you deal with finding out that of all the cells they grow into burgers, worms made the tastiest? Once you remove all the worm guts and you're just left with a patty of worm muscle, that is.

        Honestly I'd eat it but someone would have to lie and say it was something else...

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Mmm!

        you made me think of: genetically modified worms that taste like beef

        yum!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "While this can definitely lead to progress in terms of animal welfare"

      ... quite, we can kill all those unnecessary cows once they are no longer needed so no longer any need to worry about their welfare once they are gone.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

      Oh yes the old "It's inevitable" meme.

      The usual BS from promoters of something

      BTW this idea is around 70 years old. Frederick Pohl & CM Kornbluth. "The Space Merchants" product "Chicken Little."

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

        It's inevitable that someone will invent it. That "all of us" will make it a part, much less all, of our protein requirement? Not so much.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

          It's inevitable that someone will invent it. That "all of us" will make it a part, much less all, of our protein requirement? Not so much.

          When I crave beef, it is a STEAK, not a burger, than I want. When they can perfectly grow a nice porterhouse, or even a respectable strip steak, call me. Until then, I will not eat a lot of meat, but when I do, some steer is going to heaven.

          1. ICL1900-G3

            Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

            And sod the poor animals, eh?

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

        BTW this idea is around 70 years old. Frederick Pohl & CM Kornbluth. "The Space Merchants" product "Chicken Little."

        If we were actually living in space habitats and doing interstellar travel, there would be the place I could see the product succeeding. You simply wouldn't have the capacity to do conventional animal farming, even if the terrestrial/planetary preference is still for free-range burgers on the hoof.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

          "You simply wouldn't have the capacity to do conventional animal farming"

          The whole point is that we don't actually have the capacity to do conventional animal farming here on Earth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

            We *do* have the capacity, it's just not being used. There is plenty of land in the western US that is *only* suitable for grazing but we choose to raise meat animals in CAFOs which leads to situations in which a single agricultural county will produce more sewage than the Los Angeles area. Also, cows need to eat grass and not corn. Corn may make the animal bulk up faster but it tears the digestive system apart. Raising animals on a a diet that will eventually kill them can't possibly bode well for the quality of the meat. In other words if you want a good steak, grass fed is best.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: ""What was a wistful daydream just five years ago is now an inevitability,""

        BTW this idea is around 70 years old. Frederick Pohl & CM Kornbluth. "The Space Merchants" product "Chicken Little."

        I remember a short short story from many years ago. It's a court case between two food manufacturing companies, both of whom make the food the whole world eats in big vats. The complainant has brought the case because the defendants product, Ambrosia, is so delicious it's out selling everything else. The defence brings some rather distasteful words into the complaint, such as meat, something no one in their right mind would eat, yet many food products are manufactured to taste like that disgusting stuff the savages of the ancient past used to eat. The final line of the story was to introduce a new word need to describe this super food. Cannibal.

    4. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Upvote... but.

      "Animal welfare", until it's found some of the cultures accidentally get nervous systems*, then we're left asking which is worse, a normal animal, living a normal life (if treated well), then being eaten, vs an abomination stuck in a vat.

      IMO, have the real thing treated well, or have normal alternatives (mushrooms/algae and veg). Faking the taste of meat, while not having real meat, is like buying a cardboard cutout of a car. It won't get you anywhere.

      Why go to the expense and difficulty and risk (as the process needs to make sure it's safe and not contaminated) when easier alternatives are closer to hand?

      *While a totally out there and over the top exaggeration, I am certain there will be unforeseen accidents and unintended consequences if this is rushed to market.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Upvote... but.

        Before we came along, the fate of most ungulates was to be eaten by a predator. We have simply become the predator.

        Also, the US had vast herds of cow-related animals until humans killed them off and replaced them with ... herds of cow like animals. Contrary to what a lot of people imagine,left to itself nature doesn't arrive at a nice,comfortable, eco-friendly balance. On the contrary, it can even cause snowball earth conditions.

        Not to say we couldn't do a lot better, we could, but to pretend we are the worst thing that ever happened to the environment is nonsense, unless you're really keen on ice ages.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Upvote... but.

          It depends what you consider "bad" for the environment.

          In the absence of any kind of objective yardstick, either moral or utilitarian, it's hard to say what is really "worse" for the environment. We can say that today's problems are more pressing than any others, for two reasons: one, they're happening now; and two, there are more people about than ever before, so the impact on human life will be greater than anything before.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Upvote... but.

            Exactly. My point is that it is anthropocentric to call a threat to human beings a threat to the Earth (as in Friends of the Earth.) We may be causing a mass extinction, but we are not the first lifeforms to have a large effect on the atmosphere and climate.

            If we are too selfish to do something about maintaining the status quo, we deserve to be replaced by something else more suited to the environment we've created. But the Earth doesn't care.

            Tennyson, writing about the fossil record in 1844, before OoS:

            So careful of the type?" but no./From scarped cliff and quarried stone/She cries, "A thousand types are gone:/I care for nothing, all shall go.

            (Type = species)

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Upvote... but.

            Those of us who have been alive long enough to remember the formation of the EPA and the resulting MASSIVE cleanup of air and water, PLUS those currently living in places like China and India where HORRIBLE POLLUTION chokes the life out of citizens, understand what REAL environmental 'crisis' IS.

            In the USA we plant forests after cutting them down (conservation makes economic sense), repair strip mining environmental damage (after we're done mining), put "things" on exhaust systems to limit ACTUAL pollutants (not this CO2 farce, it's NOT a greenhouse gas, infrared absorption spectrum and black body radiation, look it up), and our air and water systems are cleaner than EVER, and it's working, and I'm happy about it. I *HATE* pollution!

            That being said, what's being done in the name of [insert environmentalist crisis of the week] is LUDICROUS and MANIPULATIVE and only designed to take away freedom and control people in perpetuity, in a pseudo feudal system of SOCIALISM and GOVERNMENT CONTROL.

            SOME government control is needed to stop widespread abuse. THAT much is certain. Anything beyond that is just a POWER GRAB by ELITISTS.

            And that ALSO includes the anti-MEAT agenda. However, I'd buy science-meat if it tastes the same and costs the same (or less) than REAL meat. (that means adding FAT to it, where the flavor is!)

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          we are the worst thing that ever happened to the environment

          Well, there's the large-scale burning of fossil fuels that does impact the environment in several ways, which is wholly attributable to Homo Sapiens.

      2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Upvote... but.

        Why synthetic meat?

        Angry vegans, that's why.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Upvote... but.

        "Animal Welfare" - humans are one of the FEW animals that treat their prey in a 'humane' way, for the most part. Most predators just kill and eat them, sometimes BRUTALLY.

        I think we should give ourselves some credit for doing as much as we do...

        Now - if 'protein sequenced' meat tastes as good as grass-fed or corn-fed beef, and COSTS LESS, I'll buy it at the grocery store. Until then, maybe it has a use in long space flights...

    5. jmch Silver badge

      "likely to open up a whole new can of worms as far as food quality for the masses is concerned"

      Very much this. In the short or even medium term you're either going to get cheap replacement for mass-produced sausage/burger stuffing (replacing what is currently known as reprocessed meat), or a very expensive replacement for real meat (both more expensive and not as good, so will be very niche market).

      Cheap in this context means mass-produced in giant vats of slurry with the minimum hygiene standards they can get away it. "They" being mega-food-corporations because they are the only ones who could make this profitable at scale. And that's going to end up in big macs the world over.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Plus ca change

        Cheap in this context means mass-produced in giant vats of slurry with the minimum hygiene standards they can get away it.

        So just like a saveloy sausage, then?

      2. Black Betty

        You could say that of anything factory processed.

        Soup, sauces, pre-made meals. However, the truth is that absent a small handful of heavily publicised cases every year, mass produced food safety has never been better. Home cooking and retail food outlets are by far the worst offenders.

        1. elip

          Re: You could say that of anything factory processed.

          I call bullshit. Home cooking worse offender than mass produced "food"? Do you have data?

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: You could say that of anything factory processed.

          "mass produced food safety has never been better"

          Yes, but only at the cost of adding tons of crap to the food. Reading ingredient labels of processed foods is a horror movie of preservatives, colourants, emulsifiants, sweeteners, flavour enhancers and an alphabet soup of E-numbers.

    6. jmch Silver badge

      "genuine and honest assessments regarding environmental advantages/disadvantages on such technology."

      I guess it all depends on the 'social' uptake of it. Realistically it's not replacing steaks any time soon, it will replace reprocessed meat. And less reprocessed meat used isn't going to have any effect on cattle numbers because it's a byproduct of demand for steaks, not a driver. So if the demand for steak meat stays constant or increases (with emerging middle classes worldwide consuming more), you're just going to have a price/quality 'race to the bottom' between artificial meat and reprocessed meat. If demand for steak meet reduces (eg because social/environmental consciousness makes it 'uncool' and/or environmental externalities being priced in makes it more expensive), it will replace the reprocessed meat that's no longer generated because of less steak production.

      But I don't think environmental driver will be the availability of artificial meat.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If everyone went vegan it would be an even grimmer future for farm animals than it is now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not a vegan (if I was I would say of course) but that's just false.

      The logic being that farm animals bred specifically for farming would suffer does not add up. First of all they would stop being bred and the remaining non-farming animals would be bred instead for alternative purposes they are needed for. An animal can't have a grim future if it's not been born.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        True, but say goodbye to parts of the Lake District and the Dales.

        It's perfectly true that things never born cannot suffer, but vast areas given over to soya and palm monoculture are not good for biodiversity.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Not all climates are arable. Therefore everyone can't all turn vegan.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What about soylent green? That doesn't contain animals so could be classed as vegan.

            1. John Savard Silver badge

              Soybeans and lentils are vegetable products. It's only the movie that had it made initially from fish... and then from something else when the fish ran out. The book, Make Room, Make Room! is the trustworthy source.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Except ...

                ... both the book and the movie are works of fiction, and have absolutely no bearing on the matter at hand.

                1. Todd Harrison

                  Re: Except, Well no, not except

                  Harry Harrison put years of research into the world he set Make Room! Make Room! in.

                  The environmental, overpopulation, lack of resources, and social issues in his New York of the year 2000 are all real or worse now, worldwide.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Except, Well no, not except

                    And Lucas has put about half a century into Star Wars. It's still a work of fiction.

                  2. SundogUK Bronze badge

                    Re: Except, Well no, not except

                    "The environmental, overpopulation, lack of resources, and social issues in his New York of the year 2000 are all real or worse now, worldwide."

                    Literally none of this is true.

                  3. DiViDeD Silver badge

                    Re: Make Room! Make Room!

                    ... issues in his New York of the year 2000 are all real or worse now, worldwide

                    except for the people living on stairwells, of course, and the requirement to subdivide your room to take in large families, and the complete lack of personal transportation, and the water trains. Of, and the flying wire, and Shiptown, and the handheld pump generators powering the TV sets, and nobody eating meat ever ... but other than that, yes. Spot on.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I expect that most, but not all, Reg readers are probably already familiar with the ending of Soylent Green, but a sincere thank you for having the decency to be suitably vague about it, for those who have not yet seen it.

                (Just because a film or book might be old, doesn't mean that there won't be younger people who won't yet have seen it for the first time, and for whom it shouldn't be spoilt (memories of being extremely annoyed when a stupid internet commentard spoiled the ending of Citizen Kane for me).)

                1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                  Re: Soylent Green

                  See the movie, but track down and read Harrison's book too - it's a far better experience.

            2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              An interesting if implicit distinction between vegan and vegetarian, there...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What about those intolerant to plant proteins or worse allergic? Plants generally are more likely to cause an allergy than anything that used to have a pulse...

            Be nice if they'd printed the list of 12 states so we know where the last bastions of sanity are.....

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              What about those intolerant to plant proteins or worse allergic? Plants generally are more likely to cause an allergy than anything that used to have a pulse...

              They'll die.. But then some of the promoters of new foods also seem to support eugenics and the idea of population reduction. Which is kinda worrying when these folks also talk about testing product in places where there's light regulation. And of course gloss over details around production challenges and plant related risks, ie plant diseases, or plant-borne problems like aflatoxins.

              We've evolved to eat natural products, not vat-grown synthetic product. We've also evolved so ungulates can convert cellulose into burgers and bacon because we're not very good at digesting cellulose. Which means lower quality agricultural land can be used to grow meat. And the long-term effects of vat grown proteins obviously won't be know for possibly decades.. By which point the investors will have long cashed out their IPO profits and shielded themselves from future litigation.

              Then there's the greenwash. So go vegan to save the planet.. ignoring the carbon footprint of switching to all-arable agrigulture, water requirements, fertiliser & pesticides etc etc. Which will also be the challenge for synthetic meats, ie space/heat/power needed to host vat farms. And if faux-meats are going to be cultured, those cells will still need feeding. Then there's good'ol climate change, and the problems currently in US agriculture where a combination of rain and early cold weather have affected corn production.

              On the plus side, the tech could turn out very useful for producing Marsburgers and minimise cost and welfare concerns for shipping square pigs to Mars, for Mars needs bacon (and pink salami).

              1. jmch Silver badge

                "We've evolved to eat natural products, not vat-grown synthetic product."

                Yes, absolutely

                "We've also evolved so ungulates can convert cellulose into burgers and bacon because we're not very good at digesting cellulose."

                No, we're not very good at digesting cellulose aka eating grass. Our digestive systems ARE excellent at dealing with vegetables, fruit, nuts etc, with a bit of meat thrown in. We're NOT very good at digesting large quantities of meat (certainly not in the amounts of modern "western" countries). Grains and dairy products are relatively new in human diets, no more than 10-20k years, so while there might be some very limited adaptations, and humans as a whole can live on them, many individuals have trouble digesting one or both of those categories.

                "So go vegan to save the planet.. ignoring the carbon footprint of switching to all-arable agrigulture, water requirements, fertiliser & pesticides etc etc. "

                Eating vegetables vs eating meat is huge reduction in land use, energy expenditure, water use... any environmental measure you can throw at it, in fact, once you account for the agriculture required to feed the animals.

                "Lower quality agricultural land can be used to grow meat"

                Absolutely yes, just enough meat should be grown there as can live on the grass that naturally grows there and water that naturally flows there. However currently a LOT of high-quality land is being used both to raise cattle and to grow cattle food, and this is an environmental disaster.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  No, we're not very good at digesting cellulose aka eating grass.

                  Cellulose is in every plant*

                  Our digestive systems ARE excellent at dealing with vegetables, fruit, nuts etc, with a bit of meat thrown in. We're NOT very good at digesting large quantities of meat (certainly not in the amounts of modern "western" countries).

                  That's debateable.. especially if you're talking about paleo diets. And more so given a lot of our fruits & veg are nothing like the stuff our ancestors ate. One challenge with a cellulose-based diet is cellulose (aka 'fibre') is basically carbohydrate made up from a bunch of glucose molecules. So we can eat it, digest it with various degrees of success and turn it back into glucose & starches, with excess stored as fat. Or we end up excreting the cellulose we can't digest and it's then wasted. Or turned into methane at the sewage works.

                  So that's fat/obesity sorted.. But we also need protein. Plants have that to varying amounts thanks to absorbing nitrogen. But obviously less by weight than meat & some dairy. So picking on quinoa, around 4.5g/100g. That then leads to nutritional fun and 'best' ratios of carbs/fats/proteins in your diet. Currently we arguably overconsume carbs, and one rule of thumb for protein is around 1g/kg bodyweight. So I'd need to eat 1800g of quinoa per day. But that'd also mean 375g or carbs, or 2100kcal. Oh.. so back to obesity. Or a rather depressing diet.

                  Or I could just eat a couple of hundred grams of beef or cheese to get the same protein intake.

                  However currently a LOT of high-quality land is being used both to raise cattle and to grow cattle food, and this is an environmental disaster.

                  Not necessarily. Farmers want to maximise yield and revenues per hectare so raise whatever crop yields the best return.. Which also means cost considerations. So back to quinoa, which needs nitrogen to convert to protein. So 170-200g/ha for a yield of 3-5t/ha. So 1 hectare could provide enough annual protein for around 6 people.. Ok, so it's a similar challenge with feed reqs for livestock production, but animals are less bothered by an all-quinoa diet (ish) and get fed arable waste. A cow could eat quinoa straw & husks (give or take saponin content), but humans can't.

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Or I could just eat a couple of hundred grams of beef or cheese

                    Or mushrooms and nuts - both of which contain lots of protein. Sure, it's not as much as meat does but it's certainly a lot more than quinoa..

                    (I'm neither vegan nor vegetarian - but I do try to cut down how much meat I eat.)

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Or mushrooms and nuts - both of which contain lots of protein. Sure, it's not as much as meat does but it's certainly a lot more than quinoa..

                      I think mushrooms typically contain less protein, so similar problems with yields compared to meats. I think soy has one of the best combinations of proteins & nutrients, hence it's popularity as a feedstock. But less popular in our diets, possibly due in part to FUD around GM soy. Nuts can also be fun, eg California went big into almond production and added to their biggest export being California's water. At least with tree crops, there's less organic waste to deal with compared to other veg. I did try to find out waste yield for quinoa, ie seed to plant mass as that's a 'trendy' food and ovelooks a lot of the production challenges. One being saponin content, and if that gets into water sources, it kills off fish.

                      1. jmch Silver badge

                        Nuts are an excellent protein source, they do tend to be more expensive though. Another is pulses - lentils, beans etc have higher protein content than most vegetables. And of course wheat has been naturally selected to be high in protein, while 'golden' rice has been GM*-ed to the same.

                        Quinoa is actually pretty terrible from environment/social point of view, it is a high-altitude plant and doesn't grow so well in most farm areas. The 'hipster' demand for it has sent prices up to an extent that local Andeans start to be priced out of it.

                        *I don't tar all GMs with the same brush. Modifying rice to add to its nutritional content is excellent. Modifying any crop to make it more bug-resistant is a gray area as the anti-bug mechanism might work by reducing nutrient content or adding toxins. What I really am against is the Roundup-resistance modification whose purpose is to allow excessive pesticide spraying on crops, which is terrible for the consumer and also doubly terrible for the farmer who are not only contractually tied in to the seed supplier, they are also in practice forced to buy a specific pesticide

                        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                          Quinoa is actually pretty terrible from environment/social point of view, it is a high-altitude plant and doesn't grow so well in most farm areas. The 'hipster' demand for it has sent prices up to an extent that local Andeans start to be priced out of it.

                          Yup. That's business. Which farming is. Which is the challenge. Farmers grow cash crops to stay in business, and trendy 'superfoods' tend to attract higher prices, plus R&D to extend the growing range.

                          Issue is still that a farmer in Norfolk can't just say "let's plant quinoa" because growing conditions aren't right. Same with pretty much every veg, ie there's preferred climates, soil quality & content, water availability etc. Which is one of the myths behind vegan propaganda, ie if farmers could grow veg more profitably on their land, they would be. So farmers may be growing feed crops because that's all their land can support.

                          What I really am against is the Roundup-resistance modification whose purpose is to allow excessive pesticide spraying on crops

                          It's not really 'excessive' pesticide & herbicide spraying given that stuff costs money, but also necessary because of plant pests that can destroy a crop. But that's part of the business costs, so buying seeds, sprays, fertilisers and water. Otherwise soil quality & yields plummet due to nitrogen, phosphates, manganese etc etc being consumed by crops, all to produce a product that has nutritional deficiencies. There's no getting around the fact that weight-by-weight, veg has a far lower protein content than meat or dairy. But there are synergies, so veg waste turns into animal feed, and animal waste turns into fertiliser.

                          On the GM side, I think one of the biggest sins is modifying for sterility so farmers can't keep their own seeds, and so need to buy new every season, or sprays to activate crops. Or just get charged a royalty fee. Trends may help there, ie there's a trend for 'ancient grains', which can be both tasty, and presumably out of patent. But like you say, there are negative trends.. one being the 'sweetening' of a lot of fruit & veg, boosting the fructose/carb content to suit some consumers, but also adding to the obesity problem.

                          Or just ruining foods.. Like sweet grapefruit instead of nice, sharp tangy ones. Or modifying sprouts to be sweeter. I kinda like the authentic sprout flavor. Then there's the supermarkets. I mentioned carrot tops earlier, and those can be cooked and eaten. But supermarkets don't sell whole carrots, so instead flog us top & tailed, washed and plastic wrapped carrots for our convenience.. But that also requires processing & packaging, which consumes energy, water and creates a lot of waste.

                          (And waste is a whole other story with some bizarre EU waste Directives. It used to be common for arable farms to have a few pigs to eat veg waste and make bacon, but now that 'waste' has to be managed in bizarre ways. And then there's butchering your own pigs, which now has to be done at approved abatoirs, even if (I think) the meat's for your own/family consumption.)

                2. elip

                  "Eating vegetables vs eating meat is huge reduction in land use, energy expenditure, water use... any environmental measure you can throw at it, in fact, once you account for the agriculture required to feed the animals."

                  Hmmm. Perhaps when you're considering production as it currently is practiced in the US, vs. lets say, a village in Eastern Europe 30 years ago (or US in the 20's, 30s). You don't *need* all that agriculture to feed the animals. They were feeding themselves just fine without humans being involved. I raise both 100% of my meat, and 60% of our vegetables (family of 4). There's no way in hell we could ever raise *all* of our food if it was in vegetative form only - we wouldn't have the water for that (most of the wells in farming-country where I live have dried up...largely from growing plants)...not sure what we would do in the winter time either as far as attempting to grow. It takes a *vastly* less amount of land to feed goats and pigs for free, than it would for us to try to produce as much in vegetables pound-for-pound at a great environmental and labor cost. Not to mention the nutritional trade-off you make when eating only vegetables (especially if you're only eating "normal" vegetables as you would find in your local grocery store, instead of all of the random grasses, herbs and weeds we *should* be *still* eating) . Plant protein != animal protein. Short protein != long protein.

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                We've evolved to eat natural products

                If you are going to wave the "we've evolved" flag you might as well do it properly - we evolved to eat whatever we could hunt or forage (and in past epochs that's varied widely between 'mostly plant' to 'mostly meat' and back again depending on where you lived and what the climate was at the time.

                What we didn't evolve for was to sit for 8-10 hours in a fairly static position eating sugar-rich[1] foods while exerting very little energy to obtain said foods. Taken to absurdity - if you want a burger you should go out and forage all the bits that make up the non-meat bits and then hunt and kill an aurochs and butcher it yourself..

                Also, if the vat-grown products contain the same nutrients in approximately equal amounts to real meat, do you think your body can tell? It doesn't have a magical "is it vat-grown" sensor..

                So the "we've evolved" stchick is a pretty useless one.

                [1] Given that industrial sugar production has only happened in the last 2-3 hundred years. Before that the main source was honey and that had it's own risks in gatering and was only available in small amounts.

                1. elip

                  "Also, if the vat-grown products contain the same nutrients in approximately equal amounts to real meat, do you think your body can tell?"

                  Hmmm, yes? Do you believe the food you eat is only made up of chemicals and nutrients that we know about currently? We're not even positive about what proteins are and what most do.

              3. teacake

                "We've evolved to eat natural products, not vat-grown synthetic product."

                It might be more accurate to say "we've evolved eating natural products, not vat-grown synthetic product" and that reveals the truism at the heart of your original sentence. As a phrase, it doesn't really tell us anything. Vat-grown synthetic products haven't previously existed, so of course we've no prior exposure to them, but that tells us nothing about whether "natural" is superior to "synthetic."

                What we can say with some confidence is that there is no inherent difference between proteins created one way (grown inside a cow) and chemically identical proteins grown in the lab. The digestive system has no way of differentiating between them and there's no inherent good or bad health impact from one as opposed to the other. So the journey to be taken in learning their long-term effects on us rests primarily on how accurately and with what purity we can recreate them, what compromises are made to make the process cost-effective.

                Personally, I accept that the "synthetic" bottle of aspirin in my kitchen cupboard is probably safer than trying to get the same effect "naturally" with willow tree bark, because the process is well-established and precise, but the processes in artificial meat production are clearly more complex and still to be established as a long-term proposition.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  What we can say with some confidence is that there is no inherent difference between proteins created one way (grown inside a cow) and chemically identical proteins grown in the lab. The digestive system has no way of differentiating between them and there's no inherent good or bad health impact from one as opposed to the other.

                  Can we be sure about that? For some reason, people seem to be developing digestive problems, so things like IBS or food intolerances*. That could be due to changing diets, or how we digest highly processed foods. If synthetic protein's more in the form of Jamie Oliver's 'pink slime', then perhaps we can digest it more efficiently, but then might develop problems due to a paste diet. Could be good news for the wood pulp and toilet paper industry though.

                  It's one of those fun subjects the SF writers have thought about though, ie the poor get fed nutripaste, the wealthy eat steak.

                  *something that's intrigued me, ie are rates really increasing, or is it just we're more able to diagnose those issues?

              4. baud Bronze badge

                Going vegan (or vegetarian) is still a net win for the planet, since growing a kg of soybean takes much less arable land than a kg of beef, since you have to feed your beef with feedstock until it's big enough to send to the butcher. There's a good chunk of US land that only grow feedstock

                1. Benson's Cycle

                  How often does one have to say this: the planet doesn't care.

                  You mean "for human beings to exist in vast numbers."

                  That's anthropocentrism.

                2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  "Going vegan (or vegetarian) is still a net win for the planet, since growing a kg of soybean takes much less arable land than a kg of beef, since you have to feed your beef with feedstock until it's big enough to send to the butcher. There's a good chunk of US land that only grow feedstock"

                  Is "feedstock" grown purely to feed cattle? In many parts of the world, the cattle eat what is available and where "feedstock" is needed that feedstock is often a waste by-product of other arable crops. eg across a lot of Eurpoe, where land is more scarce than the USA, Rape is grown to produce vegetable oil for cooking and the waste is used as cattle feed.

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    In the US, they use cotton seeds the same way. They extract the oil, and the leftover meal becomes animal feed. And it's not just waste from farming, either. The cod industry up in Alaska is said to be able to extract every last bit of use from the fish: including the bones and leftover meat from the human-food process which I recall are dried, ground, and turned into animal feed.

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Spent grains in general ...

                      ... are useful. Mine (from brewing) are used as a treat for the livestock[0]. Even the chickens like a handful or three tossed in with their regular scratch. It spoils very quickly, so don't give the critters more than they will eat in about a day. Note that it's a nutritious treat, not a food substitute ... but I rather suspect the hogs could live on it indefinitely.

                      Even the humans get a treat ... I'll dry it, mill it and add it to the bread flour (about 6%). I also throw a handful into the bread right after lautering for texture and flavo(u)r.

                      [0] Note that hops are very toxic to dogs, but they like the sweet spent grain! If you brew with hops, keep the canines away when sharing the wealth with the rest of your barnyard.

              5. SimonC

                > We've evolved to eat natural products

                Sips glass of strawberry squash (Ingredients: Water, Strawberry Juice from concentrate, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrates), Flavourings, Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Sucralose), Plant and Vegetable Concentrates, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Metabisulphite), Antioxioidant (Ascorbic Acid).

                Yes, Quite.

            2. BinkyTheHorse
              Mushroom

              @AC

              Be nice if they'd printed the list of 12 states so we know where the last bastions of sanity are.....

              1. They're listed in the bloody linked article.

              2. You do realize the main push for this was the scare against cell-cultured meat? Calling plant-based protein "meat" is already banned in most sane jurisdictions, so I dare say your criterion actually implies the opposite.

              Icon for something I occasionally wish to inflict on those too lazy to read with comprehension, especially before spewing the consequences of that on various comment sections.

            3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              What about those intolerant to plant proteins or worse allergic?

              Oldest Brother is pretty severely allergic to soy protein (fortunately not to anaphylactic shock levels) and you have a pretty grim future in a meat-free world since the majority of the meat alternatives contain soya in one form or another. Except (maybe) quorn - good old mycoprotein.

          3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
            WTF?

            Where do you think livestock feed comes from?

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Where do you think livestock feed comes from?

              Grass, sileage, feed pellets. But same kinds of places feedstock for vat grown meat would come from. Or perhaps not and that feedstock would come from refineries given it'd need to be in a form cells could process rather than be processed by an animal's digestion.

              But it's also one of those fun land use things the anti-meat brigade may overlook. So one example-

              https://www.feedipedia.org/node/23075

              Abraded peel: the peel removed from raw potatoes intended for crisp processing.

              Potato slurry / potato puree / potato filter cake: material from water recovery systems (oxidation ditch, belt solids, filter cake) containing variable amounts of microbial cells, solubles and of potato particles after filtration (filter cake or gray starch: sludge from settling tanks, comprised of free starch and small potato pieces).

              Screen solids: small potatoes and slices, white waste, nubbins, hopper box.

              Potato pulp from starch extraction.

              Potato protein concentrate

              And then there's stuff like carrot tops, or whole carrots that don't make the grade to end up in supermarkets. We could be eating more of that, but generally don't. And if we don't eat those byproducts/waste, then we'd have to do something with them. Currently there's some competition to turn those products into methane (aka biogas) and CO2 artificially rather than letting it rot naturally and releasing those greenhous gases.

              And then waste from animals (ie slurry etc) gets used as fertilser for food & feed crops and if there was less meat production, alternatives would be needed or soil degrades and vegetable yields and quality falls. Or food prices increase because more synthetic products are needed instead of current use of 'waste'.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Where do you think livestock feed comes from?

              Depends on the livestock and where they live..

          4. jmch Silver badge

            "Not all climates are arable. Therefore everyone can't all turn vegan."

            What has that got to do with anything? Vegans eat anything non-animal, doesn't have to be locally produced. If everyone were vegan, total farmland required would be much less (a large percentage of arable land is currently dedicated to animal food)

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Local production

              Well (1) if you have to ship food in then you can hardly claim it's carbon friendly, (2) if you have to ship food in, then you're turning entire previously self-sufficient populations into ones dependent on other actors and exposing them to the political and human abuses that are rife in the world, especially in the "less arable" areas in the middle bit (not thinking about the arctic circle dwellers here), (3) the dung from livestock in some regions enables the little bits of arable farming that do exist to continue. I'm not for a moment saying that the vast weight of humanity lives in areas where you can't farm diverse crops, merely that we've been around as a species for so long that we are part of the natural cycle in some places in the world and that our part relies on animal husbandry. Not only that, there's also insectivorous eating in many parts of the world. Is that allowed or not?

    2. Tromos

      This wouldn't appeal to Vegans anyway.

      From the article: "You might need to cut a chunk out of a cow as a biopsy sample now and again to get starter cells"

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: This wouldn't appeal to Vegans anyway.

        Then someone will inevitably raise the question: Why cows? Why not ask for a volunteer to give up a bit of leg muscle? Presto! Lab-grown Long Pig with only minimal human cruelty (Transmetropolitan reference).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Long pig

          The same thought crossed my mind: you could theoretically feed yourself?

          (I am sure there are lots of reasons why this wouldn't be a good idea...)

          1. Kernel Silver badge

            Re: Long pig

            If nothing else any attempt at this will attract patent related sueballs from the inhabitants of Ix.

          2. Ken 16 Silver badge
            Trollface

            Rule 34 (the Stross book)

            See the case of the Morningside Cannibals

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: This wouldn't appeal to Vegans anyway.

          Lab-grown Long Pig

          [Tongue-in-cheek mode=on]

          I've long debated the theological implications of eating people - according to the Mosaic code, humans are unclean meat since they neither chew the cud nor have divided feet. However, in a Christian world the old Mosaic Law is of null effect and thus, the old rules about unclean meat no longer apply[1].

          So does that mean eating people is wrong? It's obviously wrong to kill someone but what about roadkill? Or people who dies of old age?

          Answers on a postcard please!

          [TIC Mode= Off]

          [1] Hmmm.. bacon..

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: This wouldn't appeal to Vegans anyway.

            Something tells me Moses was out to make sure people only ate strict herbivores (ruminating is a peculiar evolutionary specialty that would only emerge in species desperate to have the double-digestion needed to break down cellulose without resorting to cacophagy like the lagomorphs do). Now was there a reason for this? Maybe, for reasons of experience, can't say for sure. But I'm willing to assume there was an at-least-partially-logical reason for it.

    3. tony trolle
      Pirate

      The number one US milk company just filled for bankruptcy

      1. jake Silver badge

        Yes, Dean Foods has filed Chapter 11. However, note that they produce dairy products, not meat.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Well met will be a by profuct - old cows do not go to a retirement home

  4. Dr_N Silver badge
    Linux

    Fake Meat Meet

    Forget this fad for fake meat and passing off vegetable derived products as bloody burgers. Either wean people off meat, over a couple of generations, or don't.

    The other alternative is the Soylent Green route.

    BTW What do penguins taste like? Fishy chicken?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake Meat Meet

      Ask a vicar.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake Meat Meet

      Take away my cow & I'll just switch to eating vegans. I'm a carnivore & didn't spend the last ten thousand years slaughtering my way to the top of the food chain to begin grazing at the bottom now.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Fake Meat Meet

        "I'm a carnivore & didn't spend the last ten thousand years slaughtering my way to the top of the food chain... "

        No. No you didn't.

      2. macjules Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Fake Meat Meet

        Take away the cows and you would sort of be grazing at the bottom ... rump of vegan.

      3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Fake Meat Meet

        Human digestion is based on vegetarian + meat when it is occasionally available. It did not particularly adapt to omnivore and is nowhere near specialised carnivore digestion. If there is any adaptation it is for cooked food. Cooking massively reduces the effort required to digest food so humans can manage with a poorly optimised digestive system.

        You are very welcome to eat meat if you want to but please do not pretend that meat is an evolutionary requirement or even that their is some benefit to being on top of the food chain. The longer the chain the more chances that one link will break.

      4. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Fake Meat Meet

        Of course, the problem (for you) might be that the vegans have other ideas and your venture out for a prospective dinner might end up badly for you.

    3. a pressbutton Silver badge

      Re: what do penguins taste like

      sort of biscuity and chocolately

      pro tip: unwrap before eating.

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: Fake Meat Meet

      "BTW What do penguins taste like? Fishy chicken?"

      Penguin tastes like a cross between seagull/rat and old, oily fish. And it's really, really stringy. Quite narsty, actually.

      The scene: Accident with a cage door at the San Diego Zoo in 1983ish ... A two year old tried to poke his head back at us just as the door was closing. The otherwise healthy bird died instantly (broken neck) and we decided "waste not, want not", and fired up the hibachi

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Fake Meat Meet

        And it's really, really stringy. Quite narsty, actually

        So - long, slow cooking with plenty of curry spices then? Much like an old boiler chicken[1]..

        [1] Friend of mine went to India (to a small village). He was made a chicken curry - the chicken was one well past useful[1] life and required a long cooking time (feet included - the only thing that didn't get cooked were some of the internal organs and the feathers).

        Apparently it tasted really, really good and utterly unlike a UK chicken curry.

    5. tony trolle

      Re: Fake Meat Meet

      penguins taste like fishy duck I have been told

    6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      "BTW What do penguins taste like? Fishy chicken?"

      Don't know.

      I'm told that cat actually tastes like rabbit. IE needs lots of slow cooking.

      Which leads me to wonder do dogs taste like chicken?

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: "BTW What do penguins taste like? Fishy chicken?"

        I don't know my pair seem averse to approaching the oven I can testify to the fact that they frequently taste rabbit thought with the odd pheasant thrown in..

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "BTW What do penguins taste like? Fishy chicken?"

        I'm told that cat actually tastes like rabbit

        Very unlikely - carnivores (in general) taste really, really rank even when cooked well. And cats are about as carnivore as it gets (even if their prey now comes in tins and pouches).

  5. ThatOne Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Artificial Protein-Based Meat

    As Chris G said above, it is bound to be a race to the bottom, where APBMs cover (and expand) the "junk food" spectrum of nutrition, being as unhealthy and dangerous as they can get away with being.

    Why would the APBM industry try to make high-quality products, a market niche where they compete with the already existing and well established real meat industry? It's a losing race, since artificial meat will always be playing catch up to the real one, which is already well established and well optimized. Meat has been on the menu for millions of years, people know what to expect. APBMs will have great difficulty to grow unprocessed meat (like a steak for instance) comparable in flavor and texture to the real deal. Technically it might be possible, but it won't be commercially viable.

    No, the only viable market for artificial meat is the low-cost junk food industry, where the issues of flavor and texture can easily be hidden beneath the processing and an abundance of flavoring and texture enhancers. And since in that case they'll need to be as cheap as possible to make a profit, you'd be lucky if your artificial hamburger patty/pasta topping/deep frozen pizza contains something as noble as melamine...

    1. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

      That makes little sense ... we already have incentives to make food cheap, there's no reason that food would suddenly become poisonous on some mass scale simply because of new production methods.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        "there's no reason that food would suddenly become poisonous on some mass scale simply because of new production methods."

        There's already (some) evidence that processing meat (possibly) causes health problems. This would be the ultimate in processed meat. So we would not know if cell-grown burgers were carcinogenic until about 30 years after their introduction.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        > there's no reason that food would suddenly become poisonous on some mass scale simply because of new production methods

        Yes, there is: The usual greed and the inherent lack of transparency (secret recipes and what not). As DavCrav already said above me, the more processing, the more swindle and illegal shortcuts you can try to hide before your artificial meat eventually hits the fan.

    2. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

      Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

      Get hold of a copy of the Arthur C Clarke short "The Food of the Gods"... Neat twist at the end...

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        data

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        "Arthur C Clarke short "The Food of the Gods"... Neat twist at the end..."

        Ah, posted about that in an earlier reply, 2 days after you! I should have read on first.

      3. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        Not read it, but let me guess: is it like The Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Artificial Protein-Based( Meat

      The potential danger to society associated with real meat production is far greater than the lab-based variety. Think the BSE crisis (a direct result of cost-cutting) and superbugs generated through the over-use of antibiotics in intensive farming.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based( Meat

        "...and superbugs generated through the over-use of antibiotics in intensive farming."

        While there have been superbugs produced that way, the worst of the bunch (especially the nascent pan-resistant strains) are coming out of hospitals.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

      "where APBMs cover (and expand) the "junk food" spectrum of nutrition, being as unhealthy and dangerous as they can get away with being."

      Do you really think the so-called "impossible burger" (just as an example) is a healthier alternative? Before you answer, consider that Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat do not market their products as being healthier than beef. I wonder why that is?

      Also, please consider which is the more heavily processed so-called "food": a good old fashioned beef burger, or one of the vegan alternatives.

      THINK, people. It's your over-all health and well-being we're talking about here ...

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        > Do you really think the so-called "impossible burger" (just as an example) is a healthier alternative?

        Short answer: No.

        Long answer: If you're indeed talking to me (quoting me seems to indicate that), you're preaching to the choir because I'm definitely not a vegan. I know it's not PC nowadays but I do love (real) meat.

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

          "If you're indeed talking to me"

          Nope. I was talking to the generic you. I could have worded that better, sorry.

          Have a homebrew on me. It's good for washing down steak.

      2. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

        Beef has real fat in it, which does cause health problems. On the other hand, it also has vitamin B12, which plant-based foods don't. Also, the FDA highly restricts health claims - which is the real reason they don't say their products are healthier than meat.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

          The FDA restricts health claims to reality. Do you honestly think that they wouldn't use "Better for you!" if it weren't true? And yet they don't even use"Just as good for you!" .. because it quite simply isn't.

          1. mevets

            Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

            Your premise is deeply flawed. In the first place, there is no quantitative means to establish healthier; so any labeling attempt of the sort would just open lawsuits. In 20 years we might be able to definitively say healthier, but even then, there are so many variables.

            Is the nutritional virtue of meat strained? Is Kobe beef healthier than Kentucky-meth-addict raised beef? Grain fed, milk fed, mutton-brain fed? Does it make a difference in the product. Nobody knows to establish a meat health scale; but I will likely take a pass on mutton-brain fed or meth-addict raised.

            Processed is a weasel word. Domestic animals, are not at all natural; they are the product of 100s of generations of genetic engineering (mainly artificial selection). That is a lot of processing, and that's is before baby future steak gets her first taste of industrial nutrition and medicine. Everybody points at hot dogs as processed and Kobe as natural; but that is not at all true, hot dogs are just a little more processed than Kobe. I don't advocate eating the nitrate doused bits scraped off the killing floor; but processing isn't the problem.

            If we were genetically suited to eat cows or sheep, those cows and sheep no longer exist. We have replaced them with something we have no reason to believe is compatible with our genetics. Comparatively, mashing some peas, oil, fiber and starch to make a beyond burger pretty innocuous.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

              Is the nutritional virtue of meat strained? Is Kobe beef healthier than Kentucky-meth-addict raised beef? Grain fed, milk fed, mutton-brain fed? Does it make a difference in the product. Nobody knows to establish a meat health scale;

              Sure they do. Butchers, chefs, nutriotionists, educated consumers.. The latter being me in part having discovered I'd developed a carb intolerance & become T2 diabetes. So genned up on nutrition with a side-order of endocrinology to figure out why. And in doing so, came to the conclusion the 'Eatwell' plate is misnamed, and the food industry is trying to kill us. But along the way, I saw a fascinating YT lecture from a leading cardiologist (ie head of a global cardiology assosciation). Inflammation being a leading cause of that trade's billable hours after all. But one slide compared a chunk of typical US beef with grass-fed Argentinian. The US was noticeably far fattier vs the grass-fed, nicely marbled and probably far better tasting alternative.

              But that's the food industry for you. US beef may be raised on feed lots to bulk up as fast as possible, and never mind the quality.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

                "But one slide compared a chunk of typical US beef with grass-fed Argentinian."

                Nice loaded comparison. Would make more sense to compare say American-grown Wagyu-class beef to Japan-grown Wagyu-class beef to equivalent high-quality beef grown in other parts of the world.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

                  I'll put my home-grown beef up against anything from Argentina ... or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. I'm not daft enough to think I'd win each and every double-blind taste test (and maybe none of them!), but I seriously doubt that even the most discriminating gourmet or gourmand would find much, if anything, wrong with it.

                  As a side note, I don't see Wagyu as "beef" per se; it's more of a beef-like specialty product. Yes, it's nice. Very, very nice. But to my palate, it's not worth anywhere near the cost, not by an order of magnitude.

        2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

          Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

          Beef fat causes health problems?

          Citation please.

          Recent studies indicate the opposite.

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

            If you fell into a vat of molten lard you'd definitely have health problems.

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Artificial Protein-Based Meat

      And since in that case they'll need to be as cheap as possible to make a profit

      .. they would be much better off using textured soy/myco protein instead. Easier to grow, cheaper to process and is a lot less likely to kill you if something goes wrong..

  6. OssianScotland Silver badge

    Cells have feelings too

    (Well, they are cultured)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Cells have feelings too

      (Well, they are cultured)

      Well, just play some Mozart or Vivaldi at them, then. Or recite a bit of Shakespeare.

      (the one with a copy of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the pocket, with a bookmark at page 85)

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Cells have feelings too

      Doesn't hold water. I know plenty of people who are supposedly cultured, and yet apparently don't have any feelings at all.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    To be honest out of all the meat dishes that cultured meat could be used for I don't think burgers are that top of the list for me.

    I have tried some of the meat free veggie burgers such as Quorn and they taste quite like meat already, and I would be happy to swap out beef burgers for their meat free versions and not really notice much difference in the taste or texture.

    1. holmegm Bronze badge

      The good veggie burgers taste better than meat to me, actually. It would be a loss to make them taste more like meat burgers.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        The good veggie burgers taste better than meat to me

        Quite.

        Once the manufacturers figured that a lot of people preferred veggie burgers to taste like anything anywhere along the scale that veggie burgers could taste like and not like imitating something they aren't they went with that, and most got quite good at it.

        1. Flywheel Silver badge

          Re: The good veggie burgers taste better than meat to me

          We've been eating veggie meat-style products for a number of years ago and are quite impressed/disturbed by how meat-like they're becoming. A recently-bought pack of hipster-style sausages from Tesco looked incredibly like raw meat sausage and the taste had us asking questions about their true origin.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I quite like the tesco own brand veggie burgers and use them to create a vertical stack.

      Potato waffle, veggie burger, fried egg with crushed grains of paradise pepper (yolk still runny), potato waffle and then baked beans (fry some onion, garlic, mushroom, chilli then add beans, cayenne pepper,some cheese and heat the beans till ready). Can be complimented with 4 cans of stella.

      Some people say I'm not cultured but that right there is class.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The beyond-meat (veggie burgers that bleed) aren't bad. If you're veggie they aren't as good as best veggie burgers. But if you eat meat they are at last as good as the worst fast-food burgers

        With a bit more work and a bit cheaper they will easily replace meat in fast food.

        They can be made months in advance, shipped from wherever in the world is cheapest, don't need refrigeration or careful handling, almost no risk of food poisoning, no religious objections.

        I don't see the same advantages for vat grown "real" meat.

        Vat grown fish would be incredible though. If you could make Sushi grade fish, guaranteed fresh and no worms, without destroying ocean stocks

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          I've given the Burger King one a try. Needs work. May give it another pass in a month or so. Also don't think they'll really pass muster in applications where the flavoring provided by lard/tallow is a desired feature, such as in meat sauces.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        @AC I gave you an upvote simply for your honesty.

      3. jake Silver badge

        "Potato waffle, veggie burger, fried egg with crushed grains of paradise pepper (yolk still runny), potato waffle and then baked beans (fry some onion, garlic, mushroom, chilli then add beans, cayenne pepper,some cheese and heat the beans till ready)."

        Wait a couple hours, then light blue touch paper and stand well back.

        " Can be complimented with 4 cans of stella."

        In which case, change the "couple hours" to "about an hour".

        "Some people say I'm not cultured but that right there is class."

        Ah. You must be from Hull.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Try it, some of the best foods on this planet are from the lower classes. Tamales, adobo, curry, fondue, lobster... People make do with what they have.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            best foods on this planet are from the lower classes. Tamales, adobo, curry, fondue, lobster...

            You missed oysters[1] - in the 18th century they were the food of the poor (beef and oyster pie was an East-End favourite because it was *cheap* - much cheaper than a standard beef pie since it used a lot less beef). It's only really recently (70-80 years) that they have bocomes the food of the rich - it didn't really happen until the easily-accessible oyster beds had been used up.

            [1] Personally - I can't stand them raw. Deep-fried in a tempora batter they are OK.

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Rice & beans.. pretty much nutritionally complete, but better with some pork added. Bit like dinner today.. Fried up some onion & garlic, added tin of refried beans, and chopped veg leftovers from yesterday's roast, seasoned and wrapped in tortilla. Quick, and healthy-ish. Might have been better if there was any roast spuds or chicken left over, but that seemed to have evaporated overnight.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      such as Quorn and they taste quite like meat already

      I must be a supertaster then because I've never had a meat-alternative that actually tasted anything like meat (let alone had the same texture).

      I do like some of the meat alternatives but as a flavour of their own - not because "they taste like meat".

  8. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Texture is the problem with lab-grown meat, same as with the imitation "meat" in things like the impossible burger. Compared with the sad slabs of cardboard you get in a maccas or burger king you might be able to say the imitation is similar, but the moment you compare to a real, decent burger, or a decent steak, there's just no competition.

    The difference is, the plant based stuff can't really solve the problem; plant matter and plant fats have a distinct texture and taste that can't be disguised completely. The cultured meat stuff can. They need to find some way to simulate muscle movement, some way to twitch the muscle fibres so that they gain the texture of meat, and introduce fat layers to round out the flavour profile. Until they do that, you're just getting beef-flavoured slurry. Once they figure it out, you're getting something indistinguishable from the real thing, because it essentially is the real thing.

    And imagine the side-technologies that would come of it. If you perfect the ability to grow muscles in a vat, you can extend it to other parts of the body. Skin would be an obvious one.

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Facepalm

      they already exist

      They're called cows.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: they already exist

        Growing skin, I think, means growing human skin, for treatment of burn patients and so on. Cows can't help there.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: they already exist

          Human skin cell culture is already common for burn victims.

          Skin is taken from a victim and cultured to graft on to severely burned areas without rejection problems.

          I imagine if it was possible to produce in bulk for a skin bank somebody would already be doing it.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: they already exist

            > I imagine if it was possible to produce in bulk for a skin bank somebody would already be doing it.

            The issue is the same as for growing artificial meat: It's definitely possible, we know how to do it, and have been doing it for years, but it's extremely time- and money-intensive. Yet food needs to be affordable if not cheap, not to mention imitation products need to be cheaper than the original if they are to commercially have any chance...

            Cost is the big issue they are working on right now, how to make their artificial meat patty less expensive than a car. Because at the current prices you'd rather go have a Kobe beef dinner, it would be vastly better and yet cheaper...

            To get back to home-grown skin, the point is to grow the person's own skin, so there is no rejection issue when you graft it onto the patient. Which is why it is usually grown on demand, it would be pointless to grow square meters of incompatible skin (unless you like lamp shades made out of human skin...).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: they already exist

              >unless you like lamp shades made out of human skin..

              I demand the skin of virgins for binding my spell grimoires. Not a probelm if it's vat-grown..

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: they already exist

                > I demand the skin of virgins

                That's easy; Having vat-grown skin lose its virginity would actually be the challenge...

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: they already exist

          "Cows can't help there."

          I believe the raw collagen used as a substrate for skin regeneration is harvested from cows. Look up the work of Dr. Ioannis V. Yannas.

    2. Grikath

      "Because right now, I don't think there's any company that has figured out how to grow [animal cells] at the large scale or at the commercial scale."

      We have, for ages, they're called "farms".

      As for growing skin... you might want to rethink that.. The organ we call "skin" is a tad more complicated than most people realise. There's a solid reason it doesn't grow back well when damaged..

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

    Aside from the cost, I would be worried that there is some hidden health risks to eating cultured meat. For good or ill, I know what the farm-raised meat does for and to me. I won't be eating cultured meat until I can say the same for that.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

      No BSE, no parasites, no salmonella, no antibiotics, no accidental incorporating condemned horse meat

      It may be missing some trace vitamins and minerals, but I'm not eating "artificial" meat for safety might start to look a bit anti-vax

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

        No antibiotics?

        A cuture is effectively an organism, albeit a simple one.

        Meat cultures will be susceptible to infections without protection, there wil also be temptations for manufacturers to use growth enhancing additives, given we are talking about muscle, anabolic steroids anyone?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

          You aren't going to spend money on antibiotics that you don't have to.

          I would guess that sterile protein slurry growing in sterile vats is going to get a lot less antibiotics than a factory farmed chicken.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

            > sterile protein slurry growing in sterile vats

            Antibiotics are definitely cheaper then cleaning and sterilizing stuff (not to mention the downtime). Also, you need to feed your artificial meat something so it can grow, and it definitely won't be expensive hand-picked organic vegetables, it most likely will be some digestible industrial waste, much like the stuff already used for intensive fish/poultry farming. Same reasons, same effects, your artificial meat will need antibiotics, even more than normal farm animals since it hasn't any immune system.

            (Let's not even mention hormones which an animal produces naturally, but which you will need to add liberally to any vat-grown meat.)

            1. holmegm Bronze badge

              Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

              Literally the entire food chain involves converting disgusting or even inedible stuff into tasty edible stuff.

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

                Your description neatly stops before the next link in the chain, where we turn edible tasty stuff back into disgusting stuff to start the process again.

          2. teacake

            Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

            "I would guess that sterile protein slurry growing in sterile vats is going to get a lot less antibiotics than a factory farmed chicken."

            And when you describe it that way it sounds utterly delicious too. Can't wait.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

        After all this time many people still have problems digesting the likes of milk and wheat so perhaps perhaps long-term studies are needed after all... which when compared with the time humans have been digesting milk and wheat will be pretty short term.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

          To be fair, milk is built for baby vegans, not for human beings.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: I'm going to need some long-term studies before I eat cultured meat.

          many people still have problems digesting the likes of milk

          *Most* species[1] lose the ability to digest milk properly after they are weaned - it's only a mutation in (mostly) caucasians that enables us to drink milk in adulthood without consequences.

          [1] I've yet to meet a lactose-intolerant dog[2] but I know plenty of lactose-intolerant cats (4 out of my 7 get quite sick if they drink regular milk).

          [2] As a scavenger species they probably have a much wider range of things they can eat without problem.

  10. Palpy

    I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

    I do care about getting rid of cows.

    Last summer I hiked quite a bit in the American southwest. Everywhere I went there were cows or the signs of cows. Stream banks trampled into mud, meadows grazed to dirt and thistles, springs shat in and turned to bogs of manure and flies. Even the desert was threaded with dusty, shit-spattered cow trails.

    That's a metaphor for what our lust for animal flesh and fat has done to much of the Earth: we have, metaphorically, shat just about everywhere so we can gorge on an absolutely unnecessary and (in first-world countries) unhealthy amount of cholesterol and hemoglobin. Deforestation from the Amazon to the Himalaya is down to livestock raising. Non-point water pollution from Uganda to Iowa is down to livestock (and growing feed for livestock). It's a commonplace that we feed cows 100 pounds of corn and soy in order to get back 13 pounds of animal tissue. While people who could have eaten that corn and soy starve.

    Want heart disease? Eat more beef. (Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Add more, and your heart begins to resemble a hockey puck made of suet.) Want colorectal cancer? Eat more beef. (The heme in red meat is quickly absorbed and evades [to some degree] the body's ability to regulate it, thereby promoting rapid cell growth; whereas iron from plant sources is more easily regulated. "Promoting rapid cell growth" is an excellent way to encourage cancer cells.)

    But the main thing is: cows are an ecological, environmental, and social cancer. I don't want to see them suffer; I want those fs**ckers extinct.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

      "But the main thing is: cows are an ecological, environmental, and social cancer. I don't want to see them suffer; I want those fs**ckers extinct."

      Then explain why we can't produce our own Vitamin B12 and why we evolved with canines.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

        Because we had meat available, and thus our bodies became lazy - evolution dropped features that weren't needed. Perhaps eventually with CRISPR, we can correct these defects.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

          > Because we had meat available, and thus our bodies became lazy

          Tell that to the hunter-gatherers we once were... Never hungry, just open the fridge, or go pick some fresh meat...

          Animals (including humans) live in evolutionary niches: Cows are 100% vegetarians, and thus need their multiple stomachs and have to spend most of their day eating and ruminating to process raw vegetation. Hunter carnivores are built to eat already processed food, their digestive system is lightweight and they spend very little time eating compared to herbivores. But, they don't get to eat every day, their food runs faster than your average meadow.

          Now humans are omnivores, meaning they can eat anything, both vegetation and meat. Why? Probably because they aren't specialized: We don't run very fast or have any serious weapons to hunt with, but still have the possibility to profit from the huge economy of energy which is eating already processed vegetation in the form of meat. Obviously we didn't manage to kill a buffalo (or some such) every week with our pointy sticks and sharp rocks, but when we did it was a feast and allowed us to get over the times when we didn't get anything better to chew but some dry roots.

          The problem of obesity and cholesterol and all this malarkey is that we are built to lay in a stock of fat for those periods where nothing was kind enough to get caught and eaten. Unfortunately, without frequent food shortages this security feature becomes a problem: You never get to use those reserves and they just keep increasing. It's not that eating meat is not healthy, it's that meat eaters aren't supposed to get to eat every day, because normally your meal will try to evade you, and you'll only get to catch some every now and then.

        2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

          "Because we had meat available, and thus our bodies became lazy"

          And our brains became big. How many generations of veganism will it take for us to revert?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

      But the main thing is: cows are an ecological, environmental, and social cancer.

      ... in the numbers they are currently kept. They're overloading ecosystems, and overflowing into ones that aren't (but are going to be). I'm okay with getting those numbers down to a sustainable level, but I'd miss milk, cheese and yoghurt more than I'd miss meat if cows went away.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

      >Last summer I hiked quite a bit in the American southwest (snip)

      So the cow can now go the way of the American bison that used to shit everywhere and the herds of wilder beast on the serengeti that are now few and far between.

      PS plants produce some of the most deadly toxins known to man along with some unpleasant carcinogens, they don't like being eaten either.

      Hemlock salad sir ?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

        Hemlock salad sir ?

        Nah - I'll stick to my belladonna presse with a side order of digitalis fries.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

      r.e. "cows are an ecological, environmental, and social cancer".

      Am not too sure where you get the "social cancer" bit from. Indeed I am not too sure where you get the rest of your "facts" from. But nonetheless, you have pretty much described the human race.

      Ishy

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't too much care about cultured flesh.

      Have you ever thought about not hiking in cow fields? Just a suggestion. Also if it wasn't for cows you wouldn't have cowboys and the Indians would have won.

    6. Palpy

      Re: I won't defend my post because --

      -- it's indefensible.

      What you read up there was an emotional response to the loss of the West I knew 50 years ago, when there was actually wilderness in some of those places.

      I will respond to a few of the posts, though:

      AC: "Then explain why we can't produce our own Vitamin B12 and why we evolved with canines."

      For COWS??? Gimme a break. Eat pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, iguanas, whatever. We don't need cows. Besides, we evolved as omnivores, which is why you don't have canines as big as those of a wolf or puma. Name one primitive hunter-gathering culture that subsists on COWS. Just one. (No, not the Masaii, they're pastoralists -- a relatively late human invention.) And take your B12 tabs, buddy.

      Stoneshop: "...but I'd miss milk, cheese and yoghurt more than I'd miss meat if cows went away."

      Yeah, me too. And leather, though there are substitutes. I agree with most of your post.

      AC: "So the cow can now go the way of the American bison that used to shit everywhere and the herds of wilder beast on the serengeti that are now few and far between."

      The bison did indeed roam in great herds over the American plains. Not "everywhere", as you claim. Much of the most egregious damage from cows is created by "ranchers" (actually wannabe ranchers who don't have enough land for a ranch) trucking their beasts into high mountain meadows, or into inhospitable deserts made cow-friendly by drilled wells with windmills. Much of this land simply does not have the carrying capacity for the artificially-numerous herds of sh*t-spattered bovines herded there.

      Same AC: "PS plants produce some of the most deadly toxins known to man along with some unpleasant carcinogens, they don't like being eaten either."

      Oh, please be sensible. Just because some plants are poisonous does not condemn potatoes and carrots as death-food. And plants "don't like being eaten either" -- so you equate the sentience of a rutabaga with that of a cow? Perhaps you should watch out, sir, for one day a sentient cabbage may best you at rhetoric.

      TheGhostDJ: Yes, sadly, my lament is for what the human race has done.

      As far as facts, here's the first quote from a fast Google: "The majority deforestation in the Amazon Basin since the 1960s has been caused by cattle ranchers and land speculators who burned huge tracts of rainforest for pasture. Brazilian government data indicates that more than 60 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture." About the Himalaya, it's not cattle, but firewood harvesting. Mea culpa.

      Other "facts": the health effects of overconsumption of red meat are controversial, but I suspect most of the "controversy" is fueled by the very powerful meat-and-dairy lobby trying to undercut health science. The mechanisms of harm seem clearcut. Which is the social cancer part: cow-worship has been so well mainstreamed by propaganda ("beef -- it's what's for dinner" was one catchphrase, remember it?) that literally any and all demands of the cow-growers must take precedence over any possible opposition -- dietary, ecological, environmental, or social.

      AC: "Have you ever thought about not hiking in cow fields? Just a suggestion. Also if it wasn't for cows you wouldn't have cowboys and the Indians would have won."

      The point, my dear AC, was that I was not in cow fields at all. The Humboldt Range of the Rubies, of Nevada, for one example, is spectacular above 8000 feet (2400 meters), with groves of aspen and fir, meadows and streams, cliffs, high ridges, small lakes. Nobody's pasture... but certainly well-shat upon by cows. "Open range" is what the Westerners call it.

      But you're a little bit right, no cows means no shitkickers. (You called them "cow-boys", which is actually the term for a male adolescent who appreciates sexual congress with heifers.) But the Indians wouldn't have won anyway -- there was timber, gold, oil, non-cow farmland, Lebensraum, and virtually numberless reasons for Europeans to co-opt western North America.

      Finally: Yes, I wrote an emotional post in response to lost youth. True, true, true. A small river coursing through a long-grass meadow set in a lodgepole pine forest, a clear stream with four species of trout -- rainbow, brook, brown, and bull (dolly varden, we used to call them). I learned to fly-fish on that stream. This summer I watched a cow lumber into the water, lift her tail, and dump a load of cowshit into the pool.

      Angst and sorrow. The nature of the place I described has been despoiled, like so many others. It is a metaphorical cow, the cow of mankind's unthinking exploitation and destruction, which I lament.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I won't defend my post because --

        "For COWS??? Gimme a break. Eat pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, iguanas, whatever. We don't need cows. Besides, we evolved as omnivores, which is why you don't have canines as big as those of a wolf or puma. Name one primitive hunter-gathering culture that subsists on COWS. Just one. (No, not the Masaii, they're pastoralists -- a relatively late human invention.) And take your B12 tabs, buddy."

        Perhaps not cows specifically, but there is plenty of documented evidence of humans hunting varying members of genus bos like buffalo. And what did we do in the days before artificial vitamin supplements?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. jake Silver badge

    One major problem.

    The French have a name for it: Terroir.

    Just like in Wine, where the land the grapes are grown on affects the final product, the land you grow your meat on affects the quality of the finished product. My gut feeling is that test-tube meat will be to my lovingly produced beef as aerosol cheese is to hand made, cave aged Gruyère ... in other words, essentially inedible.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      And with that, folks

      We have reached peak Jake — just as I predicted while reading thge article.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: And with that, folks

        So do you, Francis Boyle, have any input on the discussion? Or are you only capable of snark?

  13. earl grey Silver badge
    Devil

    my meat is cultured

    but that's a whole different discussion.

    give me bacon, or give me beef. none of that fake stuff, thank you.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Reclaimed meat" is a huge market

    Not only huge but never clearly marked as such.

    Grow those same cells in a vat and it will sell.

  15. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Cold turkey veggie

    I gave up meat 30 years ago for about two weeks when there were no substitutes where I lived and I had no knowledge on how to transition. I just boiled pot loads of vegetables until the goodness was gone then slurp it down like fuel. It was like giving up booze when I gave up booze abruptly, I started to dream about it. I had one dream I was eating a sausage and onion roll that was more powerful than any sexual dream I've ever had, so I went downstairs and made myself a fried onion roll. More pacifying than satisfying.

    It is so much easier now. Even cheap burgers can seem like cheap meat burgers. And Quorn, while not vegan, can pass for various cheap meats. Like alcohol, the trick is to transition slowly to consuming less meat.

    And if I can recommend one aid to a vegan diet, it's a hot younger vegan lover.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Cold turkey veggie

      And if I can recommend one aid to a vegan diet, it's a hot younger vegan lover.

      Can't help feeling that my partner might have something to say about that.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Cold turkey veggie

        Well, if they are a younger and hotter vegan then I'm sure they'll be positive about my comment.

        For the record when such a relationship sours then the refuge is a bacon sarnie.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Cold turkey veggie

          But surely everyone knows: bacon is a vegetable. It grows on bacon trees and is high in many useful food groups including fats, salt, and burnt crunchy bits.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Cold turkey veggie

            Um, that makes it a FRUIT, as it grows on trees, unless you're saying it comes from something like the bark of the tree.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Cold turkey veggie

              Is that canonical? Spaghetti grows on spaghetti trees and I don't think that's a fruit. Though I could be mistaken.

              But I am told that bacon is sliced from nodules on the trunk, not from a fruiting body. Obvious in retrospect - when did you last see seeds in your bacon?

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: Cold turkey veggie

                Mistaken I'm afraid. Spaghetti is the fruit that forms from the spaghetti tree flower, so it's definitely a fruit. It's pollenated by migratory penguins. Quite a sight in fact.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Cold turkey veggie

                  Then where are the seeds in the spaghetti. And don't say they're in the core since those kinds of seeds generally aren't edible (you may be thinking wild bananas--most market ones are cloned and seedless).

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Cold turkey veggie

              makes it a FRUIT, as it grows on trees

              Not everything that grows on trees is a fruit - like walnuts.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Cold turkey veggie

                Tree nuts are just fruits without the fruits (as fruits are seed-bearing bodies; nuts are essentially the bare seed by itself), making them kind of a subset, whereas I can't recall anything growing in a tree canopy that could really be considered a vegetable by the botanical definition (botanically speaking, almonds and pistachios are fruits--drupes--rather than nuts).

  16. sbt Silver badge
    Meh

    But we already have cells conveniently grown in non-sentient form

    They're called plants. I live in a country filled with areas unsuitable for high density crop farming requiring irrigation, but that can be used for low-density animal grazing; There are many areas around the world where the terrain is OK for goat herders, not combine harvesters.

    I think it's already possible to eat animal produce within a considered ethical framework:

    • I'm happy to cut down on intake, source sustainably and pay prices that reflect the environmental impacts on water usage and emissions;
    • I'm prepared to switch to animals with fewer damaging impacts on soils (e.g. hooves);
    • I'm prepared to pay more to meet generous standards of animal welfare, such as stocking density, access to shelter, free-range, etc;
    • I'm satisfied that there are slaughtering practices available (on land at least) that reduce unneccessary suffering (I haven't seen good options for seafood, so am avoiding that);
    • I'm prepared to eat "nose-to-tail" and reduce waste;
    • I'm prepared to pay more to allow natural rates of growth and avoid the addition of hormones (in the same way I'd rather avoid tasteless, over-watered tomatoes);
    • I don't think GMOs are inherently worse than the results of breeding, aside from the pernicious effects on farmers via IP enforcement and costs. I'd welcome a cow engineered to produce less methane, if that were possible.
    I'd rather see the continuation of well-run and sustainable farming businesses in rural areas in a range of sizes and markets, rather than the concentration of global food production in the hands of a few multinationals, which is where I think this cultured protein path leads. I would still prefer naturally grown foods than processed stuff out of a vat.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: But we already have cells conveniently grown in non-sentient form

      "areas unsuitable for high density crop farming"

      No such thing. We have Technology now. Check out Cropbox.

      1. sbt Silver badge

        They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (for container farms???)

        Yeah, not seeing solutions like the one you linked happening on the hilly sheep farming county in Wales, for example. And there are other reasons why terrain can be unsuitable for tillage (such as fragile soils, salinity problems). Efficiency in large scale crop growing favours mechanisation and tends to work against smaller field sizes resulting in the loss of hedgerows and the habitats they provide. Also the use of pesticides and fertilizers; animals care less about 'spots on their tomatoes'.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (for container farms???)

          "not seeing solutions like the one you linked happening on the hilly sheep farming county in Wales"

          A friend is feeding 28 horses with two of these on the Eastern (dry) side of the Rocky Mountains. He's got enough land to house and exercise the horses, but not enough land and water to grow enough crops to feed them. The containers (a total of ~640 sq ft) do the job, on about a tenth of the water and a quarter the nutrients (fertilizer) that conventional agriculture would demand. Their output is consistent, day in, day out, 12 months out of the year, regardless of weather conditions. He says he's paying less than half of what he was paying back when he was getting horse chow at the feed store. It's been over six years now, the containers have already payed for themselves, and the horses are flourishing.

          Why do you think you couldn't park a container on a hill-top in Wales?

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Boffin

            a hill-top in Wales? A 21st century allotment, at best.

            Well, hill-tops are often pointy, and there's the road access for a start. Utilities; you're going to need power, and water doesn't flow up hills. At least a greenhouse uses the sun; this seems like an over-elaborate greenhouse; more like it would be as energy efficient as those grow houses with the massive power bills (or power theft). The labour efficiencies with large scale field farming are not available if you're working in a set of 40ft containers.

            Look, it's probably applicable where climate's unsuitable but the land is flat and utilities are readily available, like the old market gardens on the outskirts of cities. You'd also want the combination of cheap labour to operate but skilled labour for repairs and maintenance. This combination of land and labour is not common where I am.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: a hill-top in Wales? A 21st century allotment, at best.

              Considering that you lot regularly park an entire train on top of Yr Wyddfa[0], I seriously doubt that putting an 8X40 foot box pretty much anywhere would be a problem.

              It is a very elaborate greenhouse, yes. Power is solar, augmented with a generator (wind power on the way). Water is rain and snow melt from barn roof catchment; it's dry where he is, but not parched. Wales has more precipitation, by far. Power usage is minimal; the crops are harvested young (a couple weeks, max), so inexpensive long-lasting LED lighting is all that is necessary. It takes one person about a day to plant, and another about a day to harvest a complete crop ... but he staggers it, and with succession planting says he averages about an hour every other day. Weeds and other pests aren't an issue.

              I agree that these things are probably not suited for big agriculture ... but I know another guy who has four of them. He has pretty much cornered the microgreen market in a major US metropolis, and is grossing close to $2,000,000/yr ... with over 50% profit. Both dudes say maintenance is minimal, and repairs are essentially unplug a dead module and plug in a new one. On-hand spares are minimal, so no overhead to speak of is sitting "on the shelf".

              Can't ain't never done nuthin'.

              [0] Note to my fellow Yanks: Yr Wyddfa is the tallest mountain in the British Isles outside of Scotland. It is a whopping 3560 feet high! It was probably a nice place to visit, until the aforementioned train (plus the mandatory British tea shoppe) brought the rabble. Here's a pretty picture of the summit.

        2. Jemma Silver badge

          Re: They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (for container farms???)

          Salinity problems...

          You mean like where the RSPB bought up some of the best arable land in the entire of East Anglia by outbidding the farmers who wanted to farm it - and promptly blew up the sea wall and flooded it with salt water and destroyed it, about 1000 acres worth? Think of the birdies...!!

          And then you whine about food prices and ecology and respect for the land? Don't make me bloody laugh.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (for container farms???)

            flooded it with salt water and destroyed it, about 1000 acres worth?

            And, by doing so, probably helped save nearby farm land from flooding... (it's well known that marshes and wetlands soak up rising water much, much better than hard barriers).

            Part of our problem in the UK is that, over the years, we've dismantled all the natural systems that used to soak up flood events and replaced them with easily-floodable farmlands and housing.

            So the RSPCA are, in putting things back to *how they were* are actually helping protect from flooding.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Why am I thinking of the origianl Judge Dredd movie?

    Oh yes.

    "Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and ok for you."

    Seriously. 200x the cost so they can squeeze cattle farmers out of the supply chain?

    Either accept you like meat and live with it, you've got a meat intolerance and it will kill you or you prioritize not harming animals over your health?

  18. c1ue

    This entire vat-grown fad is nonsense

    The cost of agar - what is used to grow stuff in petri dishes - was $35-$45 a pound before a shortage hit.

    That's the beginning bottom limit of what any "grown" meat is going to cost: the feedstock.

    Then there's the economics of growing 200+ pounds of meat per American - half of which is not-poultry = 60 billion plus pounds per year per percent of market share. The washing and refilling of growth containers. The monitoring and harvesting. The transport. The quality control. The extra processing needed for texture.

    This entire sector is Theranos level bullshit, except for the tiny sliver that understands it is selling $200 burgers to virtue signaling rich people.

    A better comparison is the algae grown replacement for oil that was "hot" not so long ago: where's that gone?

    Nowhere, because the scale simply isn't achievable by non-magical means. Even having a variety of algae that could directly spit out oil, the capability to farm enough algae, harvest and process to replace even 1% of oil consumption at even 10x prices vs actual oil is simply utterly impossible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This entire vat-grown fad is nonsense

      "Nowhere, because the scale simply isn't achievable by non-magical means. Even having a variety of algae that could directly spit out oil, the capability to farm enough algae, harvest and process to replace even 1% of oil consumption at even 10x prices vs actual oil is simply utterly impossible."

      They also said man couldn't walk on the moon. Why would this be any different? We just need a few significant improvements in algal aquaculture, just as we needed a few significant leaps of rocket technology in the 1960's.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: This entire vat-grown fad is nonsense

        Walking on the moon was doable from a mathematical point of view, and science knew it long before we had the technology to implement it. I'm not all that certain the math adds up in the world of algae.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This entire vat-grown fad is nonsense

          Easily. Once upon a time, aluminum was a precious metal. Just need something on that level to make culture feed cheap as chips.

  19. Dedobot

    Kill those inventors with fire , then nuke them from the orbit, just to be sure .

    1. jake Silver badge

      No, don't kill them, instead redirect their efforts. The science is good, it's just misdirected.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  21. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Oh goody

    As my monniker suggests muscle is my speciality.

    Where to start, firstly on the occasional biopsy sample. Nope. Primary culture cells which is what you are dealing with have limited ability to reproduce. Try an entire cow producing 8-10 cows worth of meat. What I strongly suspect the industry will do is create immortal cell lines. These cells can reproduce forever. But what happens if you put them back into an animal? Immortal cells with no cell cycle control is what we call cancer. Would you like a cancerous burger sir?

    Now I would have no problem with that, it will be cooked, or damn well should be and I know how to cook a rare burger safely. But it has the potential to be a new Frankenfood.

    Secondly it is hard, ridiculously hard to grow muscle tissue in a dish. Muscle tissue is more than just muscle fibres, it includes connective tissue which makes meat non mushy. Sure you don’t want too much of it, but you need some. The lab meat adds fibre during processing. Not the same thing. When you grow muscle progenitors with fibroblasts, the fibroblasts outgrow the muscle. Something is missing in regulating things and we have no idea what.

    And then we come to growing muscle in a dish. You get flat fibres which branch and form meshworks. Not like tubular single straight cells in real muscle. Part of the problem is a dish is 2D and muscle is 3D and part of it is that there is nowhere for the cells to attach. Doing that in a dish is hard. Doing it in a 3D bioreactor is pretty much impractical. Because if you grow a 3D muscle you need to add another thing: blood vessels or the cells in the middle die of lack of oxygen and poisoned by metabolites so you can only make really small muscles if you try to make actual muscle tissue.

    In addition to all this there’s the problem of what to grow your muscle tissue in. The way to do it in the lab is you get your muscle precursor cells to proliferate by feeding them media with lots of serum in it. Serum taken from animal blood, generally from foetal calves (enter the pro life element). Then to get your muscle cells to fuse into muscle fibres you withdraw the serum. But to mature the fibres you have to add some back again hoping all the precursor cells have fused (or they will proliferate again). I’m out of the loop on serum free media for growing muscle. It is possible but not problem free. Getting the cost of the media used down but still effective is a difficult technical challenge which may well be economically defeated by the biology.

    The hype is that all this can be finessed in post processing. But it means a lab burger will NOT eat like a ground beef burger. The texture will be wrong, the mouthfeel will be wrong and the flavour will likely be wrong.

    All THIS is why the marketing bods are in the fore at the moment. If I won the lottery tomorrow I would not be investing.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every single time...

    I think of the movies:

    #Soylent Green

    #Snow Piercer

    #The Twighlight Zones: "How to Serve Man"

  23. The Nazz Silver badge

    All well and good but ...

    By the time the first consumer product is available there'll be close on an additional 0.5bn mouths to feed. Not all of whom would eat piggies.

    Let's hope it scales super fast.

  24. Starace Silver badge
    Alert

    Hmm

    Seems like a complex expensive resource intensive solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

    I do wonder what they expect to feed their bioreactors on 'cos it won't be grass. And what happens to all the land used for arable farming?

    One thing they may need to think about is where they're going to find cows to get their ongoing biopsies from if this goes mainstream; no one is going to keep cows for fun so commercial herds and breeds would go extinct, just like the specialist breeds of agricultural horse did once machines took over, or many fruit varieties. Commercial plant and animal breeds can disappear amazingly quickly.

    Interesting tech but no panacea. Still probably healthier than that pea based muck with all the saturated fat thrown into it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I once had a veterinarian girlfriend (30 years ago)

    Once it became serious, I had to give up meat totally (not just in her presence).

    After 2 weeks I decided that I liked meat more than her.

    She was wonderful, but a bacon sandwich made with rashers from a proper local butcher, with a proper amount of fat - Ummm...!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many animals are true vegetarians?

    My daughter works at a Zoo.

    I was astounded when she told me that she had to feed (small amounts of) meat to so many animals that everyone would think are vegetarian.

    Personally, I've seen Geese catch Mice, throw them into the air and swallow them whole.

  27. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Not the end of meat

    There are major populations of deer in the UK, and quite a few licensed hunters to keep the numbers down.

    Much of Europe (and the USA I think) has troublesome population of feral pigs and wild boar.

    Converting grassland to cropland is likely to give them more shelter and more food.

    Without natural predators (apart from man) there will have to be ongoing culling, so a regular supply of meat.

    How then do you manage the safety and quality of the food chain?

    The obvious step is controlling the herds, and where and what they eat. You don't want your essential crops being destroyed.

    I imagine there are already some wild cows and likely to be more if farming for beef is abandoned.

    Eliminating the rearing of cattle wouldn't be a magic fix.

  28. ILLQO

    Top down instead of Down up

    I know the thought is probably a bit morbid, but why not just genetically engineer a cow or chicken to not grow unnecessary (IE non food) parts. One of the negatives we have is unnecessarily cruel treatment of food animals in food factory conditions. If we engineer animals without advanced neural development. Reduced organ development, unnecessary limbs, reproductive equipment, etc we would end up with the same product in the end.

    Many problems solved at once, lessening cruelty to thinking (even if not human level they are thinking) animals raised for food, and limiting water intake, acerage for raising, water supplies etc. Have the thing on a carefully regulated drip diet of nutrients for optimal growth, electrically stimulate it for muscle production for texture, and when it comes times to harvest it cut its life support. It never developed a mind so theres no cruelty just food hanging on a rack.

    Sure it sounds a bit mechanical and even monstrous but is it somehow less humane than producing a thinking being for the sole purpose of later slaughtering and consuming. And in terms of technical sciences far easier an outcome to produce than basically cell culturing, fixing to a source, sitting in a bioreactor and waiting, it is its own bioreactor. Once initial design is complete, clone a few million and off you go.

    We could even advance certain kinds of nutrition. Like I dont know, chicken in a box. Genetically engineered chicken without a head or legs. retained digestive system and reproduction system. Fill its feeder bag once a week and out pops an egg once a day, unferitilized and ready for consumption. No cruelty to a thinking thing, no unnecesary feeding, ranging, or slaughtering. Just input minerals/Output egg. Device works for about a year. Internal bio section dies, take out the box and recycle it. Or before that date take it out and cook eat it if its considered safe.

  29. BuckeyeB
    WTF?

    I thought they solved the problem of how to make meat 1000s of years ago?

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