The meat you eat is already fake
Thanks to innovative plant-based meat brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, gone are the days of cardboard-like veggie burgers. And with global partnerships with fast-food restaurants like Burger King and McDonalds, their products are virtually everywhere.
Cell-cultured meat—real meat grown from biopsied animal cells rather than slaughtered animals—still has a long way to go before being commercially viable. Some doubt that it will ever reach price parity with conventional meat.
Still, the industry is making progress. Eat Just, for example, sells cell-cultured chicken in several eateries throughout Singapore, and customers are walking away pleased. A 2021 survey showed nearly nine out of 10 patrons were open to substituting their consumption of conventional chicken with Eat Just’s cell-cultured chicken.
And it’s no wonder: These next-generation meat alternatives not only successfully mimic the taste and texture of conventional meat; they are also healthier, more environmentally friendly, and kinder to animals.
But like any new technology, this one has its fair share of critics. Detractors of alternative proteins have dubbed cell-cultured products “frankenfood”––a pejorative term that plays into the narrative that meat alternatives are “unnatural,” “synthetic,” or even dangerous. Polls show that plenty of consumers don’t want anything to do with “fake” meat, preferring the “real thing.” The problem with this line of reasoning is that the conventional meat on the market today is a far cry from the “real” and “natural” product consumers imagine.
Today they’re much bigger, at about six pounds. This didn’t happen through natural selection, but through deliberate, artificial selection. Producers have used selective breeding to push chickens to their biological limits.