Scientists predict meatless burgers that "taste better than meat"

Is the hype of the plant-based burger craze and laboratory-grown beef already outstripping the reality? I’ve seen varying taste test reports on the Impossible Whopper and similar offerings, ranging from the ecstatic to the disgusted, but even the real fans aren’t saying that it’s better than a finely grilled burger. At most, they say it’s hard to tell the difference. But now we’re hearing from some of the scientists looking into these experimental monstrosities and they’re claiming that in the very near future, plant-based or lab-cultured “meat” is going to taste better than actual beef. What does that even mean? (Forbes)

Plant-based burgers are becoming more mainstream, or at least more available (see the Impossible Whopper). The Good Food Institute says it won’t be long before meat alternatives taste better than meat (and are more nutritious).

This seemingly shocking statement comes from Liz Specht, associate director of science and technology at the nonprofit institute in Washington, D.C., which supports plant-based and cultivated alternatives to conventional meat products.

Okay, so here’s the basis for this claim. The people at The Good Food institute don’t seem to be saying that the fake meat will taste better than the best cut of meat you’ve ever eaten. (Picture a perfectly cooked ribeye or whatever your dead cow portion of choice may be.) But not all of the meat you eat is that good, right? You rarely get a burger that was made by grinding up the choicest cuts off the cow. Sausage is made from lower-quality beef as well.

But this lady is telling us that they are perfecting this laboratory experiment so that there will never be any gristle or tough portions. Keep in mind that she’s also talking about “cultivated” meat here… the type that’s made from actual meat to begin with but is cultured in a laboratory.

We can cultivate meat that is all upside–no gristle, no bone, no skin, no tendons,” Specht said. “We can tweak the ratio of anything in the meat, or even combine things that would never occur in a single animal.”

Combining things that would never occur in a single animal? Am I the only one getting creeped out when reading things like this?

I’m not trying to speak for the Luddites here or reject all progress in science, but this just seems dangerously unnatural. The food industry is now moving into uncharted territory and pumping out things for people to eat that we didn’t evolve to consume. People regularly freak out about preservatives in food, excessive processing of meat products and GMOs. But somehow this new trend in chemistry set meals is just fine and dandy with much of the public.

This is one of those cases where I actually hope I wind up being wrong. Who knows? Maybe this is the next revolution in sustainable food. But it certainly sounds like we’re begging for something to go disastrously wrong further down the line. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until a lot of people have been eating this stuff for a number of years before we know if any long-term health issues will start cropping up.