“Human meat is not on the menu. Sorry.”

Reddit’s just had a Q&A with the CEO of a company dedicated to 3D printing edible meat:

At Modern Meadow we’re developing technology to 3D-bioprint meat and leather. In fact, we’ve already made some, which you can see my co-founder and father eat in his TED talk here (at 5:33).

Why are we doing this? Meat is one of the most environmentally taxing resources, taking up one third of all available (ice-free) land and is a leading contributor to climate change. Conversely, growing cultured meat requires 99% less land, 96% less water, emits 96% fewer greenhouse gases, and harms no animals in the process.

What is the input , what is the output ? Explain like i am five, for 1 kg of meat , what is needed ?

The input are largely animal cells (muscle, fat and a couple other types – taken from a donor animal through a biopsy) and cell culture media (a soup in which the cells grow made of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, salts, sugars) and then energy to run the process. Output is muscle tissue that is then matured/conditioned until it is processed into meat products.

Are the input animal cells consistent with the output? Or will there be a blending of pig/cow/horse etc to create “beef”?

No blending of different species. Pig stays pig. Cow stays cow. Etc. We are using multiple cell types from each animal but staying with the same animal. In fact, an advantage of this approach is that it can ensure purity. Because we control the inputs and have such a tight process, we know the exact ingredients of every batch. No mystery meat surprises like the recent one from the UK.

Where does the cell culture media come from?

Currently, we buy it “off the shelf” from bio supply companies like ThermoFisher (HyClone) or Life Technologies (Invitrogen Gibco). In time, as we become larger users of media, we will progressively optimize our cell culture media to be perfectly matched for the cells we are growing. Our goal is also to reduce and eliminate all animal products from these media.

Does it taste the same as regular meat?

I’ve tasted it as have my colleagues. We’ve only been able to have small bites since we’re still working on getting the process right.

I cooked some pieces in olive oil and ate some with and without salt and pepper. Not bad. The taste is good but not yet fully like meat. We have yet to get the fat content right and other elements that influence taste. This process will be iterative and involve us working closely with our consulting chefs.

Interesting conundrum for some vegetarians. Once the cruelty-to-animals element is removed, is it still a virtue to abstain from meat? Certainly better for mindfulness, but… hmm.