As the planet’s population speeds towards 9 billion, it’s becomes impossible to continue consuming meat like we do today. Will we all be eating rice and beans? Grasshoppers perhaps? Scientists hope to keep us eating vertebrate protein with in vitro meat. Grown in bioreactors from animal cells, in vitro meat could be a sustainable and humane alternative to raising a whole animal from birth to slaughter. The first lab-grown hamburger is expected within the next few months.
But why should lab-grown meat look like the meat we consume today? Growing protein in bioreactors could lead to entirely new forms of meat with radically different aesthetics, materials and eating rituals. While these new products might seem unfamiliar and artificial, much of the meat we already consume is divorced from the animal’s natural form: Ground beef, smoked sausages, and chicken nuggets.
The Next Nature Lab is currently developing new visions on the production methods, designs and eating habits that might emerge around in-vitro meat. These speculative designs vary from knitted meat, protein powder fondue and luxurious meat fruit, to kitchen based bio-reactors and colorful magic meatballs for the kids.
Current state of the Art: Tiny snippets of in-vitro meat.
A selection of these future in-vitro meat scenarios is currently shown at the highly recommended Food Culture: Eating by Design exhibition at the Design Huis in Eindhoven (NL). As you might not happen to be in the neighborhood, we will also publish them online over the next few weeks. The projects were coached by Menno Stoffelsen, Koert van Mensvoort, Cor van der Weele, Daisy van der Schaft and Ronald van Tienhoven. Illustration by K. Cheng.