I was just reading an article titled ‘Would you eat lab-created fish? This startup is carving new path in ‘alt-meat’ industry’‘ and I’m wondering what’s easier for us to stomach as a society, plant-based “food-tech” or cell-based protein products?
My girlfriend and I recently went to Win-Dow in Venice, California on Rose (I really don’t want to type its whole name). We went because we saw the crowds waiting for food there AND we had read that the menu had a ‘alt meat’ burger option, called the Beauty Burger, for around $7. We wanted to try this ‘burger’ because we’re not eating red meat, and I haven’t had it in a few years, and it’s super affordable.
A burger spot that is trending locally and has an alternative meat is great for me, and it’s a good excuse to get out of the house and pig out on fries. We went there last week and saw that the Impossible Burger was recently replaced with Beyond Meat. That was a little bonus because we try to avoid any and all soy-related or soy sounding products. Last we had checked, Beyond Meat doesn’t have any soy, so for us that was a win.
We ordered two Beauty Burgers (what a name – eye-roll emoji), on gluten-free bread and French fries. The food was good enough, the wait was a while (we got there 30 minutes before closing), and our stomaches and wallets weren’t destroyed.
While it seems everyone comes to alt meats from different angles, like some people are drawn to alt meats that “bleed” (I don’t understand this obsession at all), I’m just looking for an alternative food that is relatively healthy and affordable (relatively healthy compared to other fast-food, but is always going to be less healthy than the home-cooked veggies we have at home).
Again, I don’t care about fake meats that bleed, and I definitely don’t want meats that have soy or gluten. It’s pretty simple. And I definitely don’t want to pay a premium for an alternative meat because I think it’s already stupid for me to go out and eat food made by people I don’t know, with ingredients I can’t check, at places I’m not cleaning, at higher prices than the grocery store.
So with this recent experience at Win-Dow, I just read this article about cell-based protein products out of San Diego at BlueNalu, and it got me thinking about what do people, like me, prefer. BlueNalu is working on fish-meat that is grown in a laboratory “where no fish are injured,” not even one. That’s going to be a draw to some… but I don’t think a huge draw. I think one fish injury to create fake fish isn’t the end of the world for people that want to eat fish.
But I am a little creeped out about the idea of real fake meats, meat blobs, grown in laboratories, and I think most people are too.
I occasionally have sardines, and I’m always stressed about what’s in them. Fish from the seas really stresses me out, and farm-raised fish doesn’t sound that scary. But fish parts grown in a laboratory or factory or farm in the future makes me think about creepy futuristic movies involving food plot twists like Soylent Green and (that sick part of) Cloud Atlas…
But in a the future world where plant-based proteins compete with cell-based proteins, what’s the draw for people to go for the cell-based product? I would always lean towards a stripped down plant-based option, especially one that is affordable, but maybe it’s just price.
And with prices being equal or close enough, I think that society is going to lean towards whatever their gut feeling is… plant-based seems more natural as a meat alternative than cell-based meat. If there’s a major price difference, I think the general population will go with the cheapest “meat” available, however it’s derived, so long as public opinion isn’t against it.
Right now, plant-based protein has to fight with animal-based protein (the de facto meat in most everyone’s minds), but cell-based protein has to compete with animal-based protein and plant-based protein. Unless the scientist can get the price drastically lower than it’s competitors, I don’t see how cell-based knocks out the incumbent rivals any time soon, especially since public opinion (and the stock market) are loving Beyond Burger right now and the concept of plant-based these days.
PS. I eat organic Chicken every now and then. 🙂
By David Bramante
May 26, 2019