The Way We Eat Meat Needs To Change—And These Companies Are Leading The Way

By Emma Loewe

November 14, 2018 — 10:25 AM

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Hop over to JUST's website, and you'll be greeted by a video of a happy chicken named Ian. As he roams through an idyllic field, Ian leaves a single feather behind—a white tuft that becomes a "catalyst that feeds the world." The feather is transported to a lab, where one of its cells is extracted and placed in a nutrient bath to multiply. In the end, that one feather becomes a chicken breast, and then a chicken nugget that people enjoy at a picnic—alongside none other than Ian himself!

It's a highly dramatized and simplified version of a new wave of meat production, but the idea is there: Scientists are now extracting from an animal's nearly limitless supply of cells and growing them outside of the body in order to create what's referred to as clean, cultured, cruelty-free, or cell-based meat, depending on who you're talking to.

A handful of companies, many of them in the United States and Netherlands, are in a race to bring this meat to the plates of the masses and prove that it can be a protein source for a growing planet—but it's more of a marathon than a sprint.

robert graham