‘Protein transition’: Everything you need to know about the coming clean, cultured, alternative meat revolution

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Professor Mark Post holds the world's first lab-grown beef burger. Credit: David Parry/Reuters
Professor Mark Post holds the world's first lab-grown beef burger. Credit: David Parry/Reuters

The cultured meat revolution is also sometimes called ‘the protein transition’ and its advocates are confident that this transition will happen far quicker than almost anyone realises, in years not decades. They imagine that we could be the last generation to kill animals to eat, a huge milestone in millions of years of human evolution.

More than 30 start-ups around the world are focusing on producing all manner of different sorts of lab-made meat, including chicken, pork, beef, fish and even lobster and foie gras. 

At present, cultured meat is much more expensive than animal meat. But industry insiders reckon the inherent efficiencies compared with traditional meat, and economies of scale with increased production, mean that costs will tumble fast. 

The US’s Good Food Institute reckons that ‘cost parity’ will be reached by 2030, although many think it will be quicker. The first cultured beefburger cost £250,000 to produce in 2013, but now the commercial chicken nuggets cost £12 a portion.

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This could prompt a huge shift in what we eat, as well as in our cultural attitudes towards killing animals for food, perhaps leading to a new taboo. 

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