Meat grown in a lab may sound strange, but it’s the sustainable, clean, animal-friendly future of meat, according to the Good Food Institute. How will it be marketed to the meat-loving masses?
Americans eat a lot of meat—198 pounds per capita annually, to be exact. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which reported that figure, says Americans will consume even more meat—up to 207.5 pounds per person per year—by 2024.
Aside from Americans tending toward the carnivorous, many people have made trenchant criticisms of the meat industry overall, one being its effect on the environment. Livestock, for example, contribute 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. There are also concerns about animal cruelty, cleanliness and transparency of industrial farming. As journalist Michael Pollan notes in his landmark 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill and eat animals the way we do.”
But what can be done to lessen the cons of industrial meat? Americans love meat and the number of farms dropped from roughly 7 million in 1935 to roughly 2 million in 2012, according to the USDA, leaving industrial farms to dominate the meat industry. The meatless meat industry—such as tofu and seitan—is no match for the conventional meat industry. And the future of meatless meat, poised to generate $6 billion by 2022 (per Markets and Markets), is dwarfed by the meat industry’s current sales numbers of $198 billion in 2013 (per the Meat Institute).