How Would You Like Your Steak Printed?

An Israeli start-up company, Redefine Meat recently raisedabout $6 million to perfect and commercialize its technology to 3D print meat alternatives, sometimes called alt-meat. The company claims that producing animal protein for consumption is unsustainable but that their product reduces environmental impact by 95% and has other benefits such as containing no cholesterol and a lower cost to consumers.

Reports say the ingredients of the faux meat includes three different plant protein sources, fat, and water. We assume the fat is also plant-based. The prototype printer can produce about two pounds of “meat” an hour, but their next machine is supposed to be capable of about ten times that production.

They aren’t the only company in the space, either. Novameat is also 3D printing meat. There’s also competition from companies that are basically growing real animal tissue in labs without the animals–so-called cultured meat.

There isn’t much technical detail about the meat printing, but from what little we can glean, there are multiple print heads to allow for effects like marbling and creating connective tissue versus muscle tissue. Maybe they can even print a fake bone? Custom software they talk about is likely making random variations to mimic things like grain and fat, you don’t want your porterhouse steak to look just like the one across the table, after all.

Oddly enough, the idea of manufacturing meat isn’t all that new. In 1931, Winston Churchill wrote an essay for The Strand Magazine that was later adapted and reprinted in Popular Mechanics and Reader’s Digest. The essay was called “Fifty Years Hence” and had the following passage:

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

Churchill was no dummy. He also spoke of nuclear power and wireless video phones. On the other hand, he also talked about producing human beings in artificial wombs and a few other things that are not likely to happen even if they were technically feasible.

Would you try 3D printed meat? We’ll assume the folks among us that are already off meat would be more receptive to it than the carnivores. However, the company makes it clear that it wants to capture the carnivore market.

75 thoughts on “How Would You Like Your Steak Printed?

  1. I can’t help but think that a Star Trek food replicator is actually becoming a reality!
    Imagine if this developed as well as the cell phone did from the concept of a Trekkie communicator.

    1. I’m pretty sure the cellphone did not develop out of the “Trekkie Communicator”. POTS and wireless radio had been around a long time before the cellphone. Combining the two was surely an obvious and natural outcome just awaiting the necessary miniaturization.

      Also, they work nothing alike. Cellphones rely on a cellular network with cell-towers, a grid of base stations blanketing the land and interconnected via wire. I don’t remember Scotty ever beaming down to a planet in order to build telecom infrastructure months in advance to make way for Kirk and Spock. Given that communicators still seem to work between members of the away party even after the ship has flown away they must work directly via simplex although I suspect they actually work via magic plot fairy.

      Actually, I think the magic plot fairy is more consistent anyway. Afterall, the communicator clearly relies on magic plot fairies for another part of it’s operation. There does not seem to be anything resembling the switching and routing that occur in a telephone network, POTS or cellular. They just flip the lid or press the button (depending on generation) and talk. Unless the plot dictates otherwise the correct person always gets the message.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if the flip phone was inspired by the original series communicator on a cosmetic level but that’s about it.

      Sorry, I want warp drives and transporters about as much as anyone but I don’t think real life tech is coming from Star Trek any time soon.

      1. The flip pone was called Star TAC. I suppose some inspiration with the form factor was derived from Star Trek.
        There were some flip phone for POTS systems like the Siemens Grillo and nowadays looks like a prop from Space:1999 was used instead to denote a posh place in movies and serials.
        On the other hand two way radios in the FM days were able to both use trunked radio repeaters or work in simplex or half duplex for point to point conversation, and TETRA digital radio are still able to work that way more or less.

  2. If your going to sell me soy paste just sell me soy paste. They are worried about the environmental impact of raising meat but then go and waste god knows how many resources turning soy paste into something that looks like meat. You want to know what the meat eaters care about, the taste of the food. I don’t eat soy hot dogs because they taste awful, if it looks exactly like a hotdog but tastes like something my dog would pass on I’m not going to eat it. You putting marbling in the soy paste doesn’t make it taste any better, solve the actual problem don’t waste time and resources solving a non issue.

    1. yes I agree.. I’m eat meat because I like the wAy it tastes not how it looks.
      I’m quiet happy to eat a meal that contains no meat. It doesn’t need to pretend to be meat. Actually I’d prefer it not to pretend to be what it.

      1. The difference here is that form is function for meat. The texture and composition govern the mouth-feel, taste and overall experience of the food. It’s not pretending to be meat for the sake of visuals; it’s pretending to be meat to give you the same experience.

        1. from wiki:
          >The taste of savory/Umami – is characteristic of broths and cooked meats.
          >Mushrooms, especially dried shiitake, are sources of umami flavor from guanylate.

          This is exactly why Omnipork included shiitake mushroom as an ingredient.

          >The new product is made from non-GMO soy protein, shiitake mushroom, and a mixture of rice and pea protein.

          Right now they are in a very good position for the China market as the African swine fever virus are affecting the pork production.

    1. I couldn’t find anything beyond them putting a raw steak on a standard fdm and using a pic of that as a podcast promo shot. To which I’d say good luck with your not-meat-meat-filament…

      1. Should keep pointing that out very LOUDLY as that smaks of scam. If you look this isn’t the first fake meat or 3D printed meat out there. NONE came close to actually having the same taste texture or umami of real meal. If they would have popped up saying we have that now we are just getting the 3D printing bit sorted out. Instead they do a fake picture with no disclaimers. And sorry but soy based foods produce side effects that are even more important than it tastes like crap. $6 Mill of investment down the tubes for something useless.

    2. If you look in the Media section of their website, at the very bottom there is ONE picture that actually looks real, and it’s hilarious. The actual product looks nothing like the fake media shots, it looks like the worst single material FDM 3d print, no marbling or anything, just a cartoony piece of meat 3d printed :))

      1. Actually, the media section is articles in the media. Many of those were about multiple companies and as far as I could tell none of the real looking pictures were from this particular company.

    1. Tofu is made from soy, and soy production has loads of non-sustainability problems on its own: GMOs, patents, mono cultures, herbicides, etc. pp.
      3dprinted “meat” from soy only transfers problems to other areas.

      I eat meat, but only from pasture farming, and preferably from older breeds of pork and cattle. Yep, a little more expensive(I need a car to buy it at the farm, I need a chest freezer, because I buy greater amounts at once), a little harder (you have to learn how to cut up whole birds or half animals), but tastier, the farmer gets more €/kg, and no more dumping prices in the supermarkets.

      1. Every food source has sustainability challenges, those problems you enumerate are already there for most meat since those crops are used to feed cattle in the first place.

        Even the most sustainable pasture-fed red meat you can possibly think of is orders of magnitude less sustainable than directly consuming plant-based food.

          1. Canine teeth do not necessarily indicate a carnivorous, or omnivorous diet. Certain species of animals that are herbivores have pronounced canine teeth that they use to display for dominance and mating purposes. The same argument could be used in saying we have incisors to crop vegetables, and molars to chew them, and canines are just for show. If you look at animals that primarily eat meat (cats and dogs are a good example), you’ll notice that they have many serrated cutting teeth because they do primarily eat meat.

      2. No Peter. GMO’s are not a “sustainability problem”. Genetic engineering is an awesome tool with incredible potential to do good. Granted, like any tool it can be abused.

        Engineering plants to survive getting tons of Glycophosphate dumped on them just so that we can later ingest it in our food while the local weeds start developing a tolerance is bad. Adding genes to corn that cause it to kill pollinators is bad.

        Sharing genes between species that cause plants to grow more food, resist diseases and/or provide more nutrition is a good thing. The anti-GMO idea and every person who spreads it, you each share a little responsibility for children in regions that depend on rice being deformed due to vitamin A deficiency. You share a little responsibility for the various famines that strike regions from time to time and for each time that a poor person goes to a supermarket and cannot afford nutritional food.

        Shame on you, stop spreading harmful misinformation.

        1. I hear you somewhat, but the problem is exactly what you stated. GMO is generally used for corporate profitability (of GMO-er), not ‘for greater good’ and to actually solve any hunger problems or help farmers. So please excuse me for avoiding GMO’s generally, with how many are generally doused in glycophosphate, killing pollinators, or etc all in the name of profits which are generally roll right back up to the GMO-er (via high seed costs, patents, farmers not allowed to save seed to replant following year, etc). Not to mention GMO plants tend to be less nutrient dense, due to how tightly they can be packed together, and pull tons of nutrients out of the soil, quickly depleting it of being able to produce decently nutritious food.

      3. GMO and patents is mostly an US problem. Even with all other problems it’s more environmentally safe than the current meat production methods and an improvement is an improvement.

        You eating non-GMO old breeds of meat is still far worse environmentally…

  3. I’d absolutely try it, out of curiosity more than anthing else. If it was tasty and not absurdly expensive I’d probably buy it.

    I’m not massively bothered about it being indistinguishable from meat, as long as it was tasty in its own right I’d be happy enough.

    > and has other benefits such as containing no cholesterol

    You need to be a little careful with that one if the idea is to replace field-meat with alt-meat entirely, recent studies ( suggest that veggies have higher rates of stroke because of low cholesterol. Most people in developed nations probably need to worry about unhealthily *high* levels, but you need a happy balance if field-meat is going to be replaced en masse. It’d be odd to go from a world where high cholesterol is a problem to one where low cholesterol is the concern.

    1. Exactly!

      And furthermore cholesterol isn’t really as simple as a single number that you want as low as possible anyway.

      On a more detailed level it’s a ratio. Personally my LDL is ok, it wouldn’t hurt to lower it but leaving it as is would be just fine. I need to get my HDL up, not down though. What would eating this stuff do to me?

    1. Among one of the top classic french movies ;p
      -> If viewing the above sparkls anyone’s interest, trust my advice: go for watching it entirely, it won’t be dissapointing :)
      ( hoping “Tricatel” ( the ceo & company making ‘fake’ food depicted in the above movie ) & alikes won’t be bad guys in actual coming years .. )

  4. I’d try it. But this far meat substitutes aim to be tolerable long enough for you to forget what it tasted like!

    Would a child raised on this have the same issue? No well maybe that is the way forwards.

    I bet MRE or Star Trek replicates food tastes good if it’s all you’ve ever had/

    1. Back in the 1960’s a famous French chef was asked about the best meal he ever had…

      He said, that when he was a child during WWII, one day the Allies liberated their village.
      One of the soldiers gave him the canned chocolate cake that came with his rations.
      The chef said “after eating rutabagas for 19 months, sitting on that hot, smelly, tank eating that canned chocolate cake, was the best meal he ever had>”

  5. real meat:
    cow eat grass. cow makes fertilizer & fart CO2. grass consumes sun, fertilizer & CO2 to grow. => carbon neutral.

    fake meat:
    man chops down rain forest to make soy beans. soy beans need artificial fertilizer when no cows. => not carbon neutral.

    beef: soy proteins = less rain forest.
    milk: soy milk = less rain forest.
    cheese: soy cheese = less rain forest.
    leather: imitated leather = more micro plastics.
    gelatin: seaweed gelatin = more mercury residues i our food.
    cow manure: artificial fertilizer = less healthy soil / more desert.

    ergo unless you feed the cow soy beans, your better of with real meat!

    1. Soylent Green = less people, less problem. :P

      By reducing food wastage, we could reduce some of the problems. They have started to grow fly larvae from organic waste. In the process less garbage in landfills and source of proteins for animals feeds.

        1. Report that when you figure out how to breed them at tonnes at a time. There is big money in it.

          >Fish meal sold for less than $500 (£325 ) a tonne in the early 2000s, but last year it peaked at $2,400 (£1,562) a tonne, according to Bloomberg.

          >The BBC calculated that one kilogram of eggs becomes 380 kilogrammes of larvae in just three days.

    2. Haha! What do you think they currently raise all that soy for? It’s not a cash crop because they use it to feed humans. There are literally millions and millions of acres of soybeans grown to feed cattle, pork, and other farm animals.

      It’s also worth noting that the most worrisome gas that cows produce is methane, not CO2. And grass, no matter how well fertilized, doesn’t absorb methane.

  6. I might try that out of curiosity, but most things I’ve tried that attempted to substitute for meat have worked better when the goal wasn’t “come as close to meat as possible” but instead “make something good in its own right that provides some of the same qualities as meat.” For example, the best substituted for bacon that I’ve tried was based on red bell peppers. It was about the right color, and smokey, and crispy, and salty – but very obviously not bacon, instead of subtly and annoyingly not bacon. Likewise, fallafel is not a meatball, and does not tempt the eater to judge it as a meatball. This product risks coming across as another Uncanny Valley Farms product.

    I also have to question the lower cost part. I’m not sure a complex 3D printing operation is the best way to handle lower costs. How about a continuous extrusion? The tools you’d want for short prototype runs often aren’t what you’d want to use for a run of hundreds of thousands of units.

    1. Extrusion = massively parallel 3D print heads. Only silly makers would think their idea of 3D printers are used in industrial process.

      FYI: How industrial process make Imitation crab. They use fish myofibrillar proteins to form sheets, then are cooked and cut into thin slices that gives the meat texture. I would imagine that they could do something like pasta makers and use meat glue to make muscles.
      > The paste is pumped from the holding tank to the sheet-forming equipment. Here, continuous sheets of surimi, about 10 inches (25 cm) wide and 0.05 inch (1.2 mm) thick are produced. Due to the chemical nature of the surimi protein, these sheets are very smooth. After the sheets are formed, they are sent to machines for the initial cooking. This cooking helps set the sheets and prepares them for the slitting operation, which gives the meat the appearance and texture of crab meat.

      1. The device pictured had quite a bit of “silly maker” mindset to it. Unless they intended to sell those printers as an end product, it seems like they’d be better served by going straight from making a batch of fake meat by hand in a test kitchen to working out what the full scale production would look like. As it is, they appear to have wasted a fair amount of time on a dead-end step.

  7. The big question I have with these substitute meat is why one has to make these things when there are plenty of tasty vegetarian foods? I absolutely love herbs ‘hamburgers’, made with spinach borages and other herbs with some eggs. They are of the size of an hamburger but being green it’s clear that is not meat. Or bell peppers or eggplant on bbq,
    I could literally take the ingredients from a farmer nearby and cook myself, instead to rely on a complex industrial process.

  8. vegetable protein != meat

    i complain all those vegan “things” that wish to emulate food based on animals.

    STOP TO CALL “MEAT” WHAT “MEAT” IS NOT! Lets have the braverity to call them with names that does not report to food based on animal derivates.

    If not, i have the right to assemble wood stocks, pumpkin and i call it “man”.

    1. If you don’t meat, you aren’t the target market. I like meat, so I’m looking for ways to lower my carbon footprint and still eat things I like. For me, an Impossible Burger makes a lot of sense.

  9. Yuck another disgusting peddler of Mock Meat that only appeals to SJW’s. No one who likes a properly cooked steak would even compare the fake stuff to the real thing.

    I used to eat veggie burgers and meatless paddies a long time ago. One thing I found out none of them tasted like meat, you had to season the hell out of them to kill their plant based taste.

    And oh if the Mock Meat is loaded with Soy, it’s going to hammer the male testosterone levels because it’s loaded with Estrogen and you end up looking like the typical “Soy Boy” on Youtube.

    1. Umm… I’m pretty sure that’s BS. I mean think about it using your brain for a moment. Even if soy really was full of estrogen or a chemical that is so close to it that it mimics estrogen in the body then so what?

      You see, us animals, we have these things called digestive systems. We don’t just mash up our food, add some binder and sculpt it into new body parts quickly before it hardens. Our food goes through all sorts of processes involving mechanical separation, acids and enzymes. Our food gets broken down into much more basic parts that then get put back together based on the plans encoded in our own genes not those of the animals we eat.

      If this weren’t true you couldn’t even be human! You would be made of mashed up food-animals. Except… those food animals would have been made of what they ate. Ultimately it would all go to mashed up plants.

      So if it worked the way you think we would all be walking cow pies. I am so glad that you are wrong!

  10. I still say the best way to make a hamburger or steak out of vegetables is as follows:

    1. Gather the vegetables.
    2. Feed them to a bovine.
    3. Repeat this process until bovine reaches proper size.
    4. Butcher said bovine — Lots and Lots of steak, hamburger, etc.

  11. Why do some people react so negatively to every mention or even the existence of fake meat?

    I used to hunt. I have killed and eaten many animals, mostly rabbits and squirrels but also deer and bear. I never decided to quit, I just got busy with other things. It is entirely possible that I will start again one day.

    As an omnivore* I do not feel bad about eating meat. It’s my nature. I do sometimes feel a little bad about the conditions the animals I eat lived in when they were on the farm. Buying everything “free range” is too expensive and if we all did it wouldn’t produce enough to sustain our inflated population anyway. I honestly think that hunting is way more compassionate than a typical corporate mega-farm though.

    Anyway, given all of that when someone offers me a new faux-meat product I will happily accept and eagerly try it. Why? Because I’m an omnivore, I eat plants too and this is just another new food to try! I’ve never seen a vegi-burger that came with a legally binding contract that once I eat this I will never again eat a cow!

    So, I haven’t yet tried one that I thought was as good as a piece of quality real meat. Not all real meat is quality though, There are plenty of cheap tv-dinner, fast food, etc.. meats that might as well be replaced with a fake meat product and wouldn’t get any worse. But I sometimes eat those too so whatever. Make it cheap like that and you might have a market even without cracking the perfect-meat formula.

    * – That’s right, that’s what we all are, omnivores. It’s a species thing, not a choice and not a personal preference. Regardless what you choose, we are evolved to eat both meat and plant and with instincts to crave both. Anyone who claims to be or claims humans are herbivores or carnivores is either in denial, mistaken or outright lying. Deal with it!

      1. Would a “perfect” plant based “meat” really not be meat though?

        What makes it meat? The fact that it comes from an animal?
        If it looks like meat, it has the taste of meat, the feel of meat and the nutrition of meat then why does it’s origin matter?

        Imagine this. What if I perfected a plant based burger patty that was indistinguishable from hamburger? What if I also perfected a way to make bread from animals? If I gave you these things in order that you could make yourself a sandwich would you place a bun between to patties?

        Most people buy their meat pre-buchered, neatly cut and packaged so as to not resemble the animal it came from in any way. It’s just a “food product”. Most people don’t even want to think about the butchering process. Until you tell them that this meat-like thing is plant based. Suddenly it matters.

  12. The thing is that we are omnivores, not herbivores. Herbivores do a lot of pre-processing, of a lot of vegetable matter, about what the do the entire day, eat plants and digest. Our digestive system isn’t really gear toward plant only diets, we rely on herbivores to do the work for us, then we kill ’em and eat them. It’s true, that we can get by a good long while on just plants, little rough though. With a lot of work and planning, it’s conceivable to live vegan. I suspect many cheat a little though, since when our bodies are deficient in certain nutrients, we crave the foods that can provide them. Lot of the people who go vegan, just to be ‘trendy’, aren’t going to do the nutritional homework, enjoy the food choices, or how much more food they need to consume. Also suspect vegans tend to be a little gassy, like cows… We actually need a good balance, and sensible portions to stay healthy. Unfortunately, people mostly eat the foods they like, and avoid the ones they don’t, and we have health problems.

    I think fake meat is ridiculous, and won’t replace the real deal. Might work for people who don’t know any better, but doubt it’ll ever come real close. There are plenty of plant based dishes, that taste great, why hide it? Soy anything turns my stomach, since my first tofu-turkey Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not a real picky eater, and can usually get through a family style meal of most anything. That was my greatest test, probably always will be the toughest.

    Really sort of a wasted effort, the ‘Green New Deal’ is going to have us all eating Soylent Green in 10 years, and probably robbing and killing to get it. The thought of more processed food is disturbing. I just don’t have the faith, to believe it’s pure and clean, and handled safely. We already have weekly recalls on some processed food product. Every couple months its a biological contamination, with people getting seriously sick or dying.

  13. I just want to mention that “Tofu” is not the trend-food of super health-conscious millennials that it’s usually portrait as and in its original form pretty much the opposite of a processed food item…
    …although Tofu is traditionally being eaten in China for the last 3 Millennia in a variety of forms ;)

    Just because some westerners slap the label “Tofu whatever” on products that are made partially from soybeans and a plethora of (waste-)products derived from the chemical industry they have absolutely nothing in common with the many soybean based food-items known in Asian countries.

    And by the way, if you’ve ever thought that plain “Tofu” tastes bland, just go ahead and buy a piece of meat of your choice, cut it into pieces and serve it – raw and unseasoned – bon appetit ;)

    Most people just have no clue how to prepare Tofu.

    1. Only silly westerners would think or cook in black and white. Tofu has no tastes, so you could use as a protein *supplement* for savory dishes or even desserts.

      Proper Mapo Tofu has meat in the recipe. :) Looks yummy and spicy.

      There are wheat gluten Buddhist cuisine in China and other parts of East Asia for a long while. i.e. time tested with large population. Not sure why westerners are allergic to peanuts, MSG, gluten etc.

  14. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I’d try it. If it is tasty, has a nice texture, and has a nice price, I could enjoy it. It’s not really meat, much like the new Battlestar Galactica isn’t the real Battlestar Galactica but it can still be something good. (Starbuck is a guy and cylons are clumsy shiney robots who talk cool. :-) ) …more cool stuff to enjoy no matter how you call it.

    1. That picture, I think, is not redefine meat but is Nova meat. I agree it would have been great to have a better picture of redefine but they don’t seem to have any that we could find.

  15. I tried it out yesterday and was super sceptical. But I must admit, it was awesome. I tried a steak which was perfect in texture. It tasted like a real steak, maybe a bit milder. But if I haven’t knew it, I whouldn’t have noticed a difference.

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