Lab-Grown Meat? Cultured Meat? Cell-Based Meat? What to Call the Future Food

Because animals CEO in the lab making cultured meat pet foodThere are approximately 40 companies around the world racing to create a replacement for conventional meat. This replacement is not plant-based, but instead it’s 100% real meat that starts with a small collection of animal cells that are grown in a nutrient-rich environment outside the animal. 

Some call this “lab grown” meat, others prefer “cell-based" meat or "clean" meat and some, like our team at Because Animals, use the term “cultured” meat. Regardless of the name, the end result is the same — this world-shifting technology has the same nutritional value and composition as animal­-based meat. Though in contrast to traditional meat, our cultured meat is grown without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones; and without animal suffering and slaughter. And it doesn’t cause environmental damage.

The most commonly searched term is lab-grown meat. And while it’s true that scientists in labs are at the forefront of the technology, this terminology doesn’t provide the full picture because, when you think about it, so many of the foods we eat were conceived in food laboratories. For instance, Cheetos, the cheesy snack puff sold to us by a talking cheetah, were developed in a wet lab, though no one refers to them as lab grown.

You may have also heard of “clean” meat — there is even a book with this name, Clean Meat, How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner Around the World by Paul Shapiro. The problem with this term is inclusivity. “Clean” may suggest other meat is “dirty". If you eat meat – the only available meat on the market today – you likely don’t appreciate it being called dirty.

In our opinion, the most technically correct term for meat grown without the animal is cultured meat. Because Animals is growing meat for pet food and the process we use to grow that meat is known as culturing and it’s a process you are more familiar with than you might think!

Civilizations have been fermenting food and culturing ingredients for many thousands of years. Think of yogurt, sauerkraut or tempeh. And, consider the case of brewing beer. 

In the beer scenario, yeast are grown in a warm, nutrient-rich environment, obtaining their nourishment from grain (often barley). Amazingly, the situation isn’t that different for animal cells. Although animal cells require many more nutrients than yeast, the culturing principles are the same: provide cells with the proper environment in terms of temperature and access to nutrients and they will grow.  

The fact is, all living cells (and meat is simply a collection of cells) need nutrients in order to grow. And regardless of whether one is growing animal cells or microbial cells, the “culturing” process is similar. 

Look out for Because Animals’ first cultured meat pet food products, treats for cats and dogs, coming in late 2021!

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