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Synthetic beef burgers: Don’t have a cow, man

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Synthetic beef burgers: Don’t have a cow, man

First there was Facon (a vegetarian substitute for bacon) and the now the latest animal cruelty free meat is a synthetic beef burger.

The world’s most expensive vegetarian beef burger (a term that can no longer be considered an oxymoron) unsurprisingly doesn’t seem to taste as good as the real thing.

The meat protein substitute was grown in a lab from cow’s stem cells costing over £200,000 and funded by Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin.

At the first tasting session in London, Nutritional Scientist Hanni Rutzler said the tecture was “close” to meat. She described it as, “more like the surface of bread or cake.”

Meat and protein substitutes are a growing trend with an increased awareness of animal suffering and more people turning vegetarian and vegan as a lifestyle choice.

The reason the synthetic beef didn’t taste up to scratch was because the tastiest F word (fat) cells couldn’t be generated. Once scientists have figured out how to do that, cultured (fake) meat has the potential to compete with the cattle farming industry. 

All this trouble for animal welfare reasons, but Lyne Elliot of the Vegetarian Society questions the point of the research: “Why go to this much trouble and expense to replace a foodstuff that we simply do not need? Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper and more sustainable to just stop eating meat altogether?”

- Lauren Della Marta