Memphis Meats' cultured meatball

Tofu. Seitan. Tempeh. Blech. Current meat substitutes are—how can I say this—disgusting. And we all know that vegan cheezburger tastes nothing like a real burger or real cheese. But as Impossible Foods’ bleeding burger shows us, the landscape is changing rapidly. The next big trend? Cultured meat.

What the heck is cultured meat? Companies across the globe want to make real meat by growing a small tissue biopsy taken from a real animal (without hurting it) into a larger steak or chicken breast. Each has its own unique device to grow the biopsy and plans to market the product to grocery stores, restaurants, and even individual customers around the globe.

Of course, no one has made cultured meat at scale quite yet: They’re all about five years away from a finished product. SuperMeat, an Israeli biotechnology startup, raised over $200,000 and is now at the beginning of its R&D to create cultured chicken meat. Mosa Meat, a Dutch company, is working on ground beef and in 2013 made a single burger that cost more than $300,000 to produce. Meanwhile Memphis Meats, a California-based startup, is making cultured beef and pork and made a few meatballs earlier this year.

Though we’re pretty far away from an actual usable technology, the concept has deep implications. Vegans and animal rights groups like the idea that animals don’t have to suffer for us to eat meat, and those concerned with sustainability like the idea that we could produce meat without such a high tax on our land, water, and other natural resources.

So what do you think? Would you eat a burger made of cultured meat?

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