Two Israeli companies have just made near-simultaneous announcements of their respective alternatives to traditional slaughtered meat. Though philosophically different — Redefine Meat is vegan, while Aleph Farms uses lab-grown cow muscle cells — both aim to reimagine humanity’s future dependence on meat. There are lots of reasons to try both tacks, from lessening our impact on the environment to taking a moral stand on factory farming. And, both companies use everyone’s favourite accessible future techs to build their products: 3D printing!
Though Redefine Meat’s “Alt-Meat” is made without animal products, it’s existentially terrifying in a different way. It’s printed from components the company has trademarked as “Alt-Muscle,” “Alt-Fat,” and “Alt-Blood,” and while they assure eaters those are all “made from sustainable, highly nutritious, and commonly available ingredients such as plant-based proteins, fats, and natural colors and flavors,” (link: https://www.redefinemeat.com/faq) they don’t say precisely what those are. (Soy? Gluten? Sawdust?) Plus, they result in a scarily accurate steak — which fulfils the company’s aim of providing an easy switch for active meat eaters, but would give current veg folks pause.
Meanwhile, Aleph Farm’s process is, despite the science-speak, a bit easier to wrap your head around:
“To create the meat, researchers used 3D bioprinting and real cow cells. The technology allows them to print living cells that can grow and interact in a vascular-like system helping nutrients move and resembling real steak. […]
Aleph Farms’ process uses a fraction of the resources required for raising an entire animal for meat, without antibiotics and without the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS). Part of the cost savings comes from using natural pluripotent cells that are cultivated in large quantities. Pluripotent cells, such as stem cells, can be used to make all of the other cell types in an organism.
‘The natural pluripotent cells can multiply efficiently and can mature into the cell types that make up meat, like muscle and fat cells. It is enough for us to harvest the cells once, and the procedure we use is non-invasive,’ [CEO Didier] Toubia explained.”
At DFC, we’re also invested in this tension, because we occupy an inclusive space with our sauce lines: Sure, you can use them on traditional meats, but what other mind-blowing options are out there? I’d be very interested to try both companies’ options, if and when they get international regulatory approval. I have no idea which would even be my favourite… And that’s a delicious kind of uncertainty!