Humanity has an insatiable hunger for meat. Since 2013 we have been researching, developing and campaigning for a humane and eco-friendly way to get our protein fix. Since day one we speculated vitro meat as a sustainable and humane alternative to raising a whole animal from birth to slaughter. Now, for the first time ever we see cultured meat grown in bioreactors from animal cells ready for tasting.
We first started to explore the future of food through the ‘Meat the Future’ campaign in 2013. We originally anticipated the first vitro meat would be served to the public in 2028. Now, seven years after the first public tasting of an in vitro meat burger in the Netherlands, we are thrilled to share the journey of how it got to your plate.
In 2013, Dr. Mark Post, a pharmacologist at Maastricht University produced the world’s first lab-grown hamburger. At the time it cost over $300,000 to make. Since then numerous start-ups have sprouted to improve the technologies and the feasibility to make lab-grown meat economically viable.
From burgers to chicken to oysters and shrimp, the variety of fillets produced from a single cell into a clean piece of meat in a bioreactor is whopping. With this research many challenges arose, such as the taboo of eating in vitro meat and the long food culture attached to meat and cattle. Before deciding if we are willing to eat meat from the lab, we needed to explore the food culture it brings us.
In 2013, we created the award-winning In Vitro Meat Cookbook with 45 recipes. The cookbook explored these new “food cultures” lab-grown meat might create. Meat ice cream, revived dodo wings, crispy-colorful magic meatballs, meat fruit amuse-bouches, meat paint and beef sushi grown all produced under perfectly controlled lab settings and more.
We set out on an international journey with our Bistro In Vitro Ice Cart bringing ice cream made from cells with six exciting flavours: meat fruit, polar bear, bacon, ice queen, dragon and chocopanda to the people. We displayed our speculative NANO Supermarket including the lab-grown meat in a 100 m2 pop-up store in Stavanger, Norway. We crossed the globe to Shenzhen China where we showcased 30 exquisite vitro meat dishes in the world's first in vitro restaurant.
Back home, the meat has been sealed under new European 'Novel Foods' legislation. Therefore, in 2018 we started the petition ‘In vitro meat is here. Let us taste it’ to bring In Vitro Meat on the agenda of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority with over 3000 signatures. This led to parliamentary questions, followed by a roundtable discussion with members of the Dutch parliament.
Hailed as a landmark moment across the meat industry, for the first time ever cultured meat has now been approved for sale by a regulatory authority Singapore Food Agency. The US-based company Eat Just is going on sale with the cell-cultured fried chicken in Singapore. The chicken bites will first be served in a single restaurant before the company is planning to scale out to other restaurants and finally, retailers.
With Singaporen authorities officially being the the first government to go for the sale of cultured meat, again we appeal to the Dutch government to closely follow these footsteps. Soon, we can hopefully open the doors of our Next Nature Bistro in Vitro restaurant. For now, you can select your menu and make your reservation, while we can start growing the cell-cultures in the lab. In the meantime, you can buy our cookbook and turn your kitchen into a tissue-engineering laboratory.
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