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.