We cover the subject of vegan meat substitutes frequently, since they sit at the intersection of big business and (ideally) climate change action. But one subject that gets lost in the conversation surrounding plant-based meat is its counterpart, lab-grown meat, because those products have, until recently, seemed so far away from mainstream consumption. Now, however, lab-grown meat has cleared a major hurdle in the United States, and we’re well on our way to seeing it hit the market. Which means we’ll be able to eat it.
This is the first time ever that lab-grown meat has gotten so far along in terms of potential public availability; Reuters reports that the FDA has no further questions about the product’s safety, which signals that it’s clear to move ahead in the development process. That’s good news for companies like UPSIDE Foods, which produces cell-cultured chicken (harvested from live animals) in stainless steel tanks.
Technically this isn’t an approval quite yet. The USDA still has to do its inspections on the company and its products, but once that’s good to go, the doors will be open for UPSIDE to start selling the lab-grown meat to American consumers. UPSIDE’s last round of funding raised a historic $400 million, so it’s clear there’s no slowing down this train.
Lab-grown meat has been in the works for quite some time now. Singapore was the first country to approve of the sale of lab-grown meat, and people have been able to experience it there since December of 2020. Lab-manufactured caviar is currently in the works, other companies have delved into cultured chicken, and hell, even lab-made seafood has been in development, hoping to alleviate overfishing in the ocean. Lab-meat chicken Caesar salads, here we come. My only hope is that it tastes good.