Nicholas Ang  |  Singapore
Published 2013-11-12 09:00:08

First it was Twitter’s co-founders. Then, Bill Gates came next.

These famous (and wealthy) people recently put their names and money behind Beyond Meat – a vegan meat startup based in California. Beyond Meat produces artificial meat – also called synthetic or mock meat – that purportedly tastes and feels like real, muscular fibrous goodness.

What motivated Beyond Meat? To begin, there is the fact that more and more people are becoming aware of the cruelty currently involved in growing meat – think overcrowded commercial farms, unsanitary conditions, slaughterhouses.

A farmer places baskets of newly hatched ducklings in a room
A farmer places baskets of newly hatched ducklings in a room. Source: Business Insider


pig farm
Source: woodstocksanctuary

Then there is the fact that these farmed animals eat a lot while growing – every 100g of vegetable proteins becomes only 15g of juicy beef. To top it all off, an astonishing 30 percent of Earth’s usable land is occupied for the production process.

Still not convinced? Here’s a video about chickens you should watch:

That is why you should care.

The good news is, Beyond Meat is already shipping Chicken-Free strips to Whole Foods stores in Western US and should ship nationwide this fall. The European Union’s version – LikeMeat – is a research project similarly trying to commercialise their own mock meat that mimic the texture and taste of real meat.

How artificial meat is produced with soy proteins:

Sergey Brin of Google recently tossed out some £250,000 to fund the creation of a special kind of hamburger. A level above artificial meat that is really just compressed soy proteins with flavouring, the patty in this hamburger was made in a high-tech laboratory. In-vitro meat is what it is called, and Brin and many others seem to think that it is the next big thing. This real fake meat is not an oxymoron.

Using real animal cells extracted without causing harm, they are multiplied in a growth medium the same way muscle fibre grows on an animal. The biggest advantage is that authentic meat can be produced without a slaughterhouse.

Most Expensive Burger Patty

Here’s the odd thing: more and more people being able to afford meat in Asia but it hasn’t seen any progress in meat alternatives. While artificial meat has been around for a long time here, ones that actually taste like meat still do not exist. As more people enter the middle class, it is perhaps high time for some innovation in Asia.

But hopefully not of this sort, where food  are synthesized from human waste matter. Absurd yes, but Japanese scientists have actually discovered a way to create edible steaks from human feces.

Read also: Singapore’s NTU has a toilet that will turn your poo into energy and fertilizer

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