When you enter the SuperMeat website, you’re asked the one question critical to any conversation revolving around the carnivore versus herbivore lifestyle debate. Meal is delicious or stop animal suffering – Which side are you on?
What’s unique in this situation, however, is there is one ethical, sustainable option that both sides can agree on: Cultured meat.
Launched in December 2015, SuperMeat is an Israeli biotechnology startup determined to make cultured meat a commercial reality. The company was founded by entrepreneurs and advocates Koby Barak and Ido Savir, alongside head of research and co-founder Professor Yaakov Nahmias, who is renowned for his work with tissue engineering.
“Our team has promoted cultured meat in the last few years, some of us through an NGO called The Modern Agriculture Foundation,” says Ronen Bar, VP of business development and spokesman of SuperMeat. “When we first talked to Professor Nahmias and realized he has the ability, knowledge and experience needed to make cultured meat a reality, there was no looking back.”
For those not ready to give up their ribs and brisket for plant-based alternatives, SuperMeat is the solution you’ve been waiting for – and this meat is the real deal. SuperMeat uses technology that allows them to expand isolated cells from a small tissue biopsy, which is taken without hurting the animals. The cells are then organized into minuscule tissues and placed in a safe, controlled environment that mimics animal physiology. This results in large organically grown muscles ready for standard consumption.
With its headquarters in Tel Aviv, it’s no coincidence that SuperMeat calls Israel home. Not only is Israel known for its high density of vegetarians with 8-9 percent of the population reported to be meat-free, but Ronen explains how Israel fosters a supportive environment for projects like these.
“SuperMeat is built from animal advocates and environmentalists that joined together for the purpose of mitigating and eventually eliminating all the problems associated with the meat industry as it is today,” says Ronen. “So it is little surprise that it came from Israel, which has rich, vital and diverse activities for helping animals, the planet and our own health and survival as human beings.”
Along with SuperMeat’s capacity to help end animal suffering, the production of cultured meat has the ability to have a substantial impact on the world we live in. According to their promotional video, cultured meat uses 99 percent less land, emits up to 96 percent less greenhouse gases and uses up to 96 percent less water than the meat industry today. Cultured meat has the opportunity to be healthier than conventional meat because the entire production process can be supervised. SuperMeat’s technology will also allow for local production and distributed manufacturing. Their machines have the potential to be placed in local grocery stores, market, restaurants and even in your own home.
While some of this may sound too good to be true, Ronen welcomes skepticism because it proves they are on the verge of something truly great.
“New groundbreaking technology always brings about skepticism, but that was also the case when reaching the moon seemed like a wild dream or sitting on the beach with a hand-sized computer giving us access to almost infinite information (the Internet) seemed impossible,” he explains. “Cultured meat is not a vague dream. It was already proved possible when the first cultured hamburger was made in 2013 by a scientist named Mark Post.”
Products from SuperMeat are currently still in development with the goal of introducing cultured meat to the mainstream market within the next five years. Through their crowdfunding page, SuperMeat has gained over 4,100 supporters who have backed the project with nearly $175,000 USD. Ronen encourages anyone interested in the project to check out their website, videos or reach out to the team directly with any questions.