Lab-grown lion meat could soon be served at your favourite restaurants in the UK

By Francesca Johnson

Published Mar 31, 2022 at 01:52 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The latest lark in culinary cuisine is artificial meat substitutes. However, the newest addition to the line of lab-grown foods might take you by surprise—because it’s ‘lion meat’. Yes, you read that right folks.  It seems that the predators have caught the attention of the fine dining industry. If the concept of tiger tacos interests you, then keep reading, because they could soon be available at your favourite restaurants in the UK.

From a list including lions, tigers and bears (oh my, indeed), at least two of these animals could very well end up taking over menus in restaurants. If the pitched products manage to pass regulatory checks, that is. A menagerie of select choices of meat for dishes we all know and love—think succulent tiger steaks and exotic zebra sushi rolls—will also accompany the possible sale of lab-grown lion meat in the UK. Though there’s one thing we feel the need to clarify: the meats in question do not come from the animals themselves, instead they’re from the cosy confines of laboratories that create them artificially.

Lab-grown lion meat could soon be served at your favourite restaurants in the UK
Lab-grown lion meat could soon be served at your favourite restaurants in the UK
Lab-grown lion meat could soon be served at your favourite restaurants in the UK

The idea is the brainchild of tech startup Primeval Foods. The meat itself is “cultivated” from the self-declared “future of food” company, and though it is climate-friendly, it raises a few eyebrows—along with truckloads of other questions—as to where our meat comes from and whether we should even be eating it at all.

The Independent detailed that Primeval Foods’ goal is to get its meats into “Michelin-starred restaurants in London,” with even bigger plans to “expand on a larger scale, even to local supermarkets.” So mock meats could end up on our shelves, huh? Let’s find out more about them before our local supermarkets start stockpiling these artificial creations.

What is this so-called “cultivated meat” everyone is speaking of? Well, it is a production method that allows companies to make food from any species—you know, minus all the animal slaughter. How, you ask? The answer lies in animal cells, which are directly harvested and allow these companies to replicate “the sensory and nutritional profiles of conventional meat,” according to the Independent. Instead of the bloodshed, cultivated meat producers grow the necessary animal cells directly, which gives them the chance to replicate all the nutritional profiles and the ever so sought-after sensory experiences of eating the real deal.

This concept helps us all dodge the unnecessary process, which is considered barbaric by many, of raising animals for their eventual slaughter. Considered as a more sustainable practice of meat making, these lab-grown creations also aid the effort to conserve our world’s resources by maintaining land and water, “preserving habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and preventing manure pollution and antibiotic overuse,” as the Independent further noted.

However, there are some caveats to this new creation. For one, we don’t know much about the scalability of this fake meat business. As the Independent pointed out, “cultivated meat is not yet produced on an industrial scale.” Along with the “​​relative uncertainty” that it could actually benefit the planet preservation-wise, in February 2022, the Financial Times reported a “slump” in plant-based sales when company Beyond Meat’s stock plummeted by 11 per cent. The Independent also outlined that, within the last three months of 2021, the company’s losses have amounted to around $80.4 million—more than three times that of the previous year.

Lab-grown lion meat could soon be served at your favourite restaurants in the UK

On the flip side, scientists do seem to agree that the overall environmental impacts of cultured meat production would be considerably marginal compared to the conventionally-produced ones that is today’s standard. A study, published by ACS Publications in 2011, observed the impacts of cultivated meat and went on to state that its production uses approximately anywhere from seven to 45 per cent less energy than what is used in the production of European meat. The study also concluded that greenhouse gas emissions were 78 to 96 per cent lower, and land usage also managed to get cut down by 99 per cent. Heck, even water usage went down by 82 to 96 per cent. Lab-grown: 1, homegrown: 0.

Primeval Foods and its advocates certainly agree. “People are constantly seeking to discover new foods, new restaurants, new culinary experiences, but the traditional species have reached their limitation on meeting this demand,” said Yilmaz Bora, managing partner for Ace Ventures—which is the London-based venture studio that created Primeval Foods. “It has to go beyond the current beef, chicken, and pork dishes, and it has to come without the expense of nature,” he added.

Furthermore, the company has big plans to host taste testings in the coming months “to give the world a taste of what the next chapter of food would look like,” Bora enthusiastically claimed.

The company thinks its meat could rise above the hit that the food industry has taken in recent years—believing that now is the time to “double down on innovative ideas,” the Independent reported. Not only are the meats in question climate friendly, but Primeval Foods hopes these ‘exotic’ alternatives will also prompt people to explore novel culinary experiences.

So why not be a little adventurous and try a lion burger on your next meal out?

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