- Tasty alternatives to meat aren't enough for these startups, which are working on burgers, fried chicken, and sushi that verges on the real thing - all without the usual environmental waste or ethical concerns.
- While some companies pursue creative plant-based recipes for burgers that "bleed," others are coaxing animal cells into real flesh.
- These startups are on the front lines of the future of meat, and some are already changing what we eat.
Remember when ordering a veggie burger meant dooming yourself to a meal of tasteless bean paste?
Yeah, neither do these startups.
But tasty meat alternatives aren't enough to meaningfully reduce the waste and environmental damage associated with traditional farming. So roughly a dozen companies - all of which have emerged within the last decade - are working on different options. They're taking one of two approaches to meat-less meat: either carefully selecting the right mix of vegetarian ingredients to make burgers that "bleed," or coaxing the cells of cows, chickens, and fish into real flesh - minus the killing.
California-based Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and Terramino Foods are all making "plant-based" burgers, or foods that taste like meat using vegetarian ingredients from crops like wheat and peas. While burgers from Beyond and Impossible are available in stores or restaurants now, Terramino hasn't yet turned its "salmon" burger prototypes into a consumer product.
Nearly a dozen other startups are going the cell-to-flesh route with clandestine operations in laboratories around the world. Netherlands-based Mosa Meat, the startup to make the first burger from cells, recently raised nearly $9 million to scale-up its operations and hone its recipe; a Silicon Valley-based company called Just (formerly Hampton Creek) is working on an unspecified product from an unspecified avian cell source; and several companies aim to turn fish cells into products like spicy tuna rolls.
Here's a look at how far along each company is when it comes to making real food.