Mammoth Meatball: The Future of Sustainable Meat Consumption?
Reviving Extinct Flavors: A Step Toward Climate-Friendly Meat Alternatives
The project aims to showcase the potential of cell-grown meat without killing animals, emphasizing the connection between large-scale livestock farming, wildlife destruction, and the climate crisis. Vow, an Australian firm, has taken a unique approach to cultured meat, researching over 50 species, such as alpacas, buffalo, crocodiles, kangaroos, peacocks, and various fish. The company plans to introduce Japanese quail as their first cultured meat product in Singapore this year. CEO George Peppou explains their aim is to shift billions of carnivores toward environmentally friendly protein sources by “inventing meat.”
Woolly Mammoth: A Symbol of Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change
Co-founders Tim Noakesmith and George Peppou chose the woolly mammoth, an extinct species, to represent biodiversity loss and climate change. The creature is thought to have disappeared due to human hunting and global warming following the last Ice Age. Bas Korsten of Wunderman Thompson, the creative agency behind the idea, sees cultured meat as “meat, but not as we know it.”
Cultured Meat: A Tastier Alternative to Plant-Based Options
While plant-based alternatives are now commonplace, cultured meat offers a more accurate taste of conventional meat. Currently, Good Meat’s chicken is the only cultured meat available to consumers in Singapore, but two American companies have also gained approval. In 2018, another firm used DNA from an extinct animal to produce gummy bears made with gelatin from a mastodon, a similar elephant-like creature.
Creating Mammoth Meat: A Blend of Science and Culinary Art
Vow collaborated with Professor Ernst Wolvetang of the Australian Institute of Bioengineering at the University of Queensland to develop the mammoth muscle protein. The team utilized the DNA sequence of mammoth myoglobin and filled in gaps with elephant DNA. They then inserted this sequence into sheep myoblast stem cells, which multiplied into 20 billion cells used to grow mammoth meat. Wolvetang called the process “ridiculously easy and fast.”
Woolly Mammoth Meat Taste Test: A Culinary and Immunological Mystery
As no living person has tasted mammoth meat, its effect on the human immune system remains unknown. While Wolvetang admitted that initial skepticism is natural, he argued that cultured meat makes sense from an environmental and ethical perspective.
The Environmental Benefits of Cultured Meat
Large-scale meat production, particularly beef, causes significant environmental damage. To mitigate the climate crisis, wealthy nations must reduce meat consumption. Cultured meat requires less land and water and produces no methane emissions. Vow uses only renewable energy sources and does not use fetal bovine serum in its commercial products. The company has raised $56 million (£46 million) in investments to date.
Future of Sustainable Protein: Blending Human Stem Cell Research and Cultured Meat
Wolvetang envisions a growing connection between human stem cell research and cultured meat production. Cells can be programmed to grow muscle, fat, and connective tissue in response to their environment, potentially allowing for the cultivation of specific meat cuts. Seren Kell of the Good Food Institute Europe hopes this groundbreaking project will spark discussions about cultured meat’s potential for sustainable food production.
Concentrating on Familiar Meats to Maximize Impact
However, as the majority of meat consumed comes from farmed animals like beef, pigs, and poultry, the sustainable protein industry is primarily focused on reproducing these meats. By growing beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, the industry can reduce emissions from conventional animal agriculture more effectively. The mammoth meatball was revealed at Nemo, a science museum in the Netherlands, earlier this week.
I don’t know about you, but I am no way near ready to try this out. At least not for now.