The campaign to promote veganism by exposing the destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

ENDING BLENDS: Inside the fantastical, pragmatic quest to make ‘hybrid’ meat


In much the same way that hybrid vehicles acted as a bridge between the electric vehicle to their rapid commercialization today, hybrid meat products (blending plant-based meat ingredients with just enough cultivated meat) may do the same for cultivated meat.

KENNY TORRELLA: This much is true: Production and consumption of meat is an environmental and ethical catastrophe. And we keep eating more of it, with enormous consequences. There’s climate change and the environment: Almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to livestock, while in the US alone, air pollution from meat production is linked to 12,700 premature deaths each year.

Or lifesaving drugs: Three-quarters of antibiotics used globally are fed to farmed animals, and partially as a result, bacteria on farms are growing resistant to the drugs, contributing to the 35,000 Americans who already die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, a number that is only set to rise in the future.

Or the simple and terrible question of animal suffering: Some 1 trillion animals are raised and killed for meat and seafood each year, treated in ways that would outrage us if done to a dog or cat.

Add it all up, and you can see why the factory farming system that delivers 535 million tons of meat and seafood to consumers each year may one day be seen as the great moral crime of our time. Yet despite those facts — and despite the growing public awareness of that crime — global meat production is projected to only go up and up and up in the coming decades. Experts call this the “meat paradox” — the psychological conflict that occurs when our dawning recognition of animal rights and the effects of meat production clashes with our seemingly insatiable desire to eat them.

One solution would be to finally listen to the ethicists and the animal rights advocates and simply change our eating habits. Yet despite all of the above, we cannot — just 5 percent of the US population considers itself vegetarian, according to a 2018 Gallup poll, a figure that has barely changed over the past two decades.

Plant-based meat alternatives likely won’t save us either. While the Beyond burgers and Impossible nuggets of today are vast improvements on the Tofurky of the past, they’re not yet good enough to persuade Americans who eat the equivalent of 2.4 burgers per day to switch at scale.

But what if there were a way to make meat that tastes exactly like meat, without killing a single animal? That could create an escape hatch from the meat paradox, allowing consumers to enjoy food they seemingly can’t get enough of, without the ethical and environmental side effects.

It may sound like magic or science fiction, but that product exists — at least in the labs of food tech startups. It’s called cultivated meat, and it involves culturing and growing animal muscle and fat cells in tanks through a process that resembles brewing beer by fermentation…

There is, of course, a catch: For cultivated meat to truly make a difference, it will need to be produced and sold at a low enough price point to compete with our heavily subsidized factory farm meat system… As one expert put it, the scientific and economic challenges of producing cost-competitive cultivated meat at scale amounted to an impenetrable “Wall of No.”

We’re far from finding out if the deep skepticism is warranted; new technologies take decades, not years, to pan out (or sputter out). If the skeptics are right, though, there might seem to be no simple escape from the meat paradox. Then what?

There may be a third way: blending plant-based meat ingredients with just enough cultivated meat to make a “hybrid” burger. In much the same way that hybrid vehicles acted as a bridge between the electric vehicle experimentation of the 1970s to their rapid commercialization today, hybrid meat products may do the same for cultivated meat. SOURCE…