Would you eat bacon grown in a lab?

Illustration for article titled Would you eat bacon grown in a lab?
Photo: Norman Hollands (Getty Images)

We are in a boom time for plant-based “meats,” and multiple companies, including the likes of both Beyond Meat and IKEA, are making these types of animal-free proteins increasingly accessible. This is, of course, bad news for the meat industry, which has previously slammed plant-based meats, suggesting that they are both unnatural and will result in “forced vegetarianism.” So where does it leave both the meat industry and consumers when a company starts making meat in a lab instead of butchering an actual living animal?

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As written about by Forbes, the company Mission Barns is doing exactly that. Mission Barns’ website says its product takes pork cells and feeds the cells “in a warm cultivator” with “vitamins, sugars, salts & proteins. Once the cells have been fattened “to their limit” the company “harvest[s] [the] tissue, giving you bacon without the slaughter, a product Forbes refers to as “cultivated protein.” And, per Mission Barns, the company is also manufacturing fat alone, offering “pork lard, duck fat, & other fats upon request.”

Mission Barns’ product calls to mind the “Headless Chicken Solution, which proposed growing chickens in towering, Matrix-style vertical farms stacked one thousand chickens high. And the idea of slicing quivering slabs of cultivated bacon, still warm from the cultivator, is a bit weird, if not downright grotesque. That being said, the actual commercial pork industry is a carnival of horrors, and pigs, while delicious, are quite intelligent and the manner in which they are raised and slaughtered is like something out of Cloud Atlas. If we can get the meat without the animal, maybe we should take advantage.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)

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DISCUSSION

fastassgolf
FastAssGolf

If it’s actual animal protein and tastes like bacon I don’t have a problem with it.

I’m curious, are they creating pork belly or are they creating bacon? Bacon has to be smoked to be bacon, and it is usually cured first. Did they create “bacon” that doesn’t need the extra steps?