It’s estimated that there are about 1 billion cows, 1.2 billion sheep and 23 billion chickens in the world [1,2,3]. What if we could make meat without the need for all these animals?
This would certainly save a lot of greenhouse gas emission: the livestock sector contributes about 14.5% of global emissions caused by humans . It is partly for this reason that scientists are trying to grow meat in the lab .
To grow animal muscle, you need to start with ‘stem cells’ – these are special cells that can divide and specialise into different types of cells [5,6]. The stem cells can be obtained either from an animal embryo (a group of cells that eventually develop into an animal ), or they can be taken from the muscle of an adult animal . That way, fewer animals are needed than for conventional meat production – one company claims that a single small sample of tissue from a cow can produce 80,000 quarter pounder beef burgers .
The stem cells can be grown first in a small dish, and then in a larger tank of cells where they replicate . The cells are later transferred to a frame to enable them to grow into the shape of muscle fibres . The amount of fat and other nutrients in the meat can be controlled .
Although meat can be grown in a lab by this process in small amounts, scaling up the process is proving to be a challenge .
Estimates find that lab-grown meat has lower greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use than conventional beef, but similar to that of poultry [5,9]. Emissions are higher than for plant-based protein-rich crops like peas and beans, but more similar to processed vegetarian meat substitutes [5,9].
One concern with artificial meat is that it will, at least initially, be more expensive than plant-based meat substitutes . Therefore, it would need to be more tasty, nutritious or have some other benefit so that people are willing to pay a little extra .
Would you eat meat grown in the lab?
 http://www.sheep101.info/farm.html See original data from FAOSTAT
 https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/38629617.pdf See: E.g. Figures 1, 2, 3
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