Would you eat meat that was grown in a laboratory? If these folks get their way, you just might get that chance.
A Dutch artist wants you to imagine a world beyond factory farms, slaughterhouses, and the culinary experience of meat as you know it.
In 2013, Dutch scientist Mark Post reached a huge milestone in his work to transform the way meat is produced. He created the world's first lab-grown, in vitro hamburger patty. After hearing about this potentially delicious breakthrough, fellow countryman and professional culture jammer Koert van Mensvoort was intrigued.
But after hearing about Post's burger, Mensvoort, an artist at heart, was a little dissatisfied. According to NPR:
"When van Mensvoort first heard of lab-cultured meat, he says the scientists who 'thought they could use in vitro meat to make the same steaks, sausages, and hamburgers that we all know' disappointed him. He felt that they should be reaching farther with this exciting new technology."
So Mensvoort opened Bistro In Vitro, an online restaurant that's ready to feed your imagination!
"It's a virtual restaurant, so we strictly serve food for thought," says Mensvoort. He's partnered with renowned chefs to get people psyched about the future of sustainable meats (also called cultured meats), a food innovation that's being made possible through stem-cell research. And I have to say, some of their ideas are pretty appetizing.
Their menu includes bizarre bites like...
Friendly Foie Gras
Force feeding of geese & ducks is inhumane. Therefore we grow #goose livers for our friendly foie gras #food #animals pic.twitter.com/WV6jkG7NCI
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) June 19, 2015
Scallops with Cultured Caviar
Would you eat labgrown eel, a species that is on the verge of extinction? This one is with caviar. #labgrown @NPRFood pic.twitter.com/p1yoerYyGn
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) May 26, 2015
Okay, so it's not real... yet. Bistro In Vitro's striking website and vision for our future: http://t.co/MRfm65yBsI pic.twitter.com/MdCWwOkjHK
— Drop (@dropkitchen) May 27, 2015
Grown without blood vessels, nerves or organs: The See-Through Sashimi. Would you eat this? #meatthefuture #invitro pic.twitter.com/Qiv9xx5fwp
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) June 2, 2015
Ravioli of Cultured Bresse Chicken
Only the chicken needed for this ravioli dish has been lab-grown. Would you eat this? @foodwatch_de @foodwatch_nl pic.twitter.com/y1IZX0erhu
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) May 25, 2015
Our chefs are skilled at the art of origami. What would you create? http://t.co/MwyneaZrs4 #meatthefuture pic.twitter.com/GCyMpXPtvG
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) May 6, 2015
With #invitromeat you can be as creative as you want. Meat our Dodo Nuggets. Served hot with a juicy dipping sauce. pic.twitter.com/loVq3EgT0d
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) May 9, 2015
And here's one that actually gives me the shivers, but I'm game:
Celebrity Cubes are made from celebrities' stem cells. Show you are a real fan of #balotelli #einstein and #ladygaga! pic.twitter.com/26IWUFFBg5
— Bistro In Vitro (@BistroInVitro) June 9, 2015
Tasty as these may sound, why would anyone want meat that was grown in vitro? Well, let's consider our current relationship with meat.
The U.S. is a global leader when it comes to carnivorous cravings, with the average American consuming 125 pounds of red meat and poultry per year!
And according to the Bistro In Vitro fact page, our current meat production systems require an obscene amount of resources. From farm to factory to market, producing a single quarter-pound burger, for example, it says takes all this:
- 52 gallons of water for irrigation and cattle hydration
- 6.6 pounds of grain
- 75 square feet of land for crops and grazing
- 1.09 kilojoules of fossil fuel energy ("enough to power your microwave for 18 minutes")
For a quarter-pound of ground beef! Can you believe it?
As long as humans are around, meat will be, too. But it's clear we need to change how it's produced.
In vitro meat could not only solve for systemic animal cruelty, but it's also a possible solution to global crises such as climate change and world hunger.
"Cultured meat isn't natural, but neither is yogurt. And neither, for that matter, is most of the meat we eat. Cramming 10,000 chickens in a metal shed and dosing them full of antibiotics isn't natural.
I view cultured meat like hydroponic vegetables. The end product is the same, but the process used to make it is different. Consumers accept hydroponic vegetables. Would they accept hydroponic meat?"
Watch a delightful introduction to Bistro In Vitro below, then visit their website to "place your order" for a heaping plateful of the future.