We spoke with the cardiologist at the forefront of cellular agriculture.
Health benefits and a lower environmental impact are often reasons people cite for following a vegetarian or vegan diet. But soon, eating meat and animal welfare might not have to be mutually exclusive. Clara Foods, for instance, is working on creating an egg through biotechnology, which harvests protein identical to that of egg whites solely from plants, thus removing the chicken from the equation. Another example: Perfect Day is working to make milk without a cow.
Similarly, start-ups are expanding the field of cellular agriculture with the goal of creating animal products such as chicken, turkey, and beef from cell cultures. Leading the charge in using labs to grow meat is cardiologist Uma Valeti, the founder of Memphis Meats, whose "meatball" YouTube video went viral last year. What Valeti is calling the 'world's first cultured meatball' is made using live cells extracted from a cow that are grown into tissues and muscle. The result: real beef without harming the animal (and it's not to be confused with genetically modified food). Those who have tried early samples of it are saying it tastes like the real deal as well.
We spoke with Valeti (who expects the product to be on the market within the next five years) about the importance of test-tube proteins and how the science is progressing.