Cell-cultivated meat could make cruelty-free exotic animal meat a reality

But is it good if people could eat lab-grown lion?


By Brian Kateman, Fast Company



If you follow the food tech space, cell-cultured beef, chicken, and fish—that is, real meat grown from animal cells rather than slaughtered animals—are practically old hat by now. Berkeley-based Upside Foods just raised a whopping $400 million in funding as the company prepares to bring its first consumer product to market: cell-cultured chicken, made in partnership with chef Dominique Crenn. Elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay area, SCiFi Foods took in $22 million from investors as the company develops a scalable process for its premier product, which will be hybrid plant-based and cell-cultured beef. In Israel, food tech company SuperMeat recently received a grant to develop an open-source platform that’s meant to help the entire cell-cultured meat industry expand while keeping costs down.


Suffice it to say, there are a lot of companies working toward—and money being invested in—making cruelty-free but biologically identical chicken, pork, beef, and seafood products for popular consumption. What you may not know is that there are also a handful of companies using cell-cultivation strategies to make ethical and commercially available forms of meats that are . . . less familiar, to say the least.


London-based company Primeval Foods focuses exclusively on cultivating exotic meats, such as lions, tigers, and zebras. Similarly, the Australian company Vow Foods is looking to address the problems of our modern food systems by exploring the possibilities of cell-cultivated zebra or elephant meat. In Europe, food tech company Paleo has a patent pending for cultivated strains of the protein heme (which is said to be what makes meat taste meaty) that are bioidentical to that of several common livestock animals, and one, well, not so common: the long-extinct wooly mammoth.


From a culinary standpoint, I understand why chefs, foodies, and adventurous eaters would be excited about this prospect:


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