What is cultured meat? A Q&A with our CEO, Dr. Shannon Falconer

You may already know about Because Animals because your pet enjoys the benefits of our Superfood & Probiotic Supplements (we have one for dogs and one for cats). And you may have heard rumblings about our first-ever dog cookie, Noochies — a certified organic, human-grade biscuit made with peanut butter, and the star ingredient, nutritional yeast — which comes out the last week of November!

But you may have also heard about Because Animals in a different vein, as a bioscience startup making pet food without animal meat and using cultured meat instead. Well, we are all those things! The latter being the most exciting element of our company and also the area people have the most questions about. 

Here, in a Q&A with our CEO and co-founder, Dr. Shannon Falconer, we will provide some answers. Shannon has a PhD in microbial chemical biology. She is also passionate about animal welfare and has spent over a decade volunteering in the animal rescue community. 

Q: Let’s start at the beginning, what is cultured meat?

A: Cultured meat is meat grown without raising or slaughtering animals. It is grown in a way that is similar to an embryo developing in the womb, except that cultured meat begins with a small collection of animal cells that are grown in a nutrient-rich environment outside the animal

Cultured meat has the same nutritional value and composition as animal­-based meat. It is, in fact, 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.

Q: Why are you making cultured meat for pets?

A: More than a quarter of the environmental effects of factory farming are directly attributable to pet food. Factory farming is also a cruel and inhumane practice and we believe it has no place in pet nutrition.

Additionally, cultured meat provides a safer and more nutritious alternative to pet food made with animal-grown meat. For example, every year, the Food and Drug Administration issues recalls on pet food for reasons that include contamination by the animal euthanizing agent, pentobarbital. 

Q: What specific kind of cultured meat are you going to produce for pets?

A: Earlier this year we successfully created the world’s first cultured meat pet food. Namely, we prepared a cat treat made from cultured mouse, mice being the ancestral diet of the cat. 

In addition to treats, we are developing nutritionally complete foods for both cats and dogs. In terms of the variety of cultured meat we’re creating, we have some exciting announcements in the future so stay tuned!  

Q: How much will your cultured meat pet food cost? 

A: Customers can expect to pay the same price for our cultured meat pet food products as they’re currently spending on other premium pet food items. 

Q: Finally, what do you most want consumers to understand about cultured meat?

First, that cultured meat is real meat. And, second, we totally understand what a new concept that is to wrap one’s head around!

For that reason, we have taken a slow and steady approach to introducing our pet products — for example, our supplement and dog cookie — containing more conventional cultured ingredients, such as probiotics and nutritional yeast. This eases the customer into the world of cultured foods with ingredients they’re already familiar with. 

And, it’s why we will always be transparent and honest about our creation of cultured meat. We think it’s so important to bring customers along on the journey with us so they understand and feel completely comfortable with our process. And we encourage you to shoot us questions anytime at hello@becauseanimals.com.