Since the dawn of Homo sapiens some quarter million years ago, animals have satiated our species’ desire for meat. But with a growing global population and demand for meat, eggs, dairy, leather, and more, raising such massive numbers of farm animals is woefully inefficient and takes an enormous toll on the planet, public health, and certainly the animals themselves.
But what if we could have our meat and eat it, too? The next great scientific revolution is underway—discovering new ways to create enough food for the world’s ever-growing, ever-hungry population.
Enter clean meat—real, actual meat grown (or brewed!) from animal cells—as well as other clean foods that ditch animal cells altogether and are simply built from the molecule up. Also called lab-grown meat, cultured meat, or cell-based meat, this race promises promise to bring about another domestication. Whereas our ancestors domesticated wild animals into livestock, today we’re beginning to domesticate their cells, leaving the animals out of the equation. From one single cell of a cow, you could feed an entire village. And the story of this coming “second domestication” is anything but tame.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Foreword Yuval Noah Harari ix
Chapter 1 The Second Domestication 1
Chapter 2 Science to the Rescue 25
Chapter 3 (Google) Searching for a Solution 53
Chapter 4 Leading with Leather 89
Chapter 5 Clean Meat Coming to America 111
Chapter 6 Project Jake 149
Chapter 7 Brewing Food (and Controversy) 183
Chapter 8 Tasting the Future 219
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Clean Meat by Paul Shapiro is the definitive book on creating real meat, eggs, dairy, and leather without having to raise or slaughter animals. The book begins with a beautifully written reflection on where we are in global history by the author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, who notes that technology created industrial animal farming with all of its harms, and technology could also be used to usher in a new era where we produce exactly the same products but in a safer and more sustainable manner: “just as we need clean energy to replace fossil fuels, we need clean meat to replace factory farms.” From there, author Paul Shapiro presents eight chapters, which offer a detailed look at how these technologies came into being and the scientists and entrepreneurs who are powering them. Because Shapiro presents all of this information by telling the stories of the people behind this agricultural transformation, the book is fast-paced and thoroughly engaging. We learn about Sergey Brin funding the first clean meat burger and Dr. Mark Post, a former Harvard Medical School professor who grew it in his lab at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands; about Mayo Clinic trained cardiologist Uma Valeti, founder of Memphis Meats, a company that has attracted funding from Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and even Cargill, the meat giant; about Jason Matheny, who is currently director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and who previously founded New Harvest, a research institute focused on funding groundbreaking research into clean meat; about Andras Forgacs, a serial entrepreneur in tissue engineering who has raised tens of millions of dollars to make real leather without the cow; and about the founders and origin stories of companies that are using a similar technology to create egg, dairy, and collagen proteins. Perhaps one of the more interesting observations from the book is that kerosene replaced whale oil (and saved the whales) and that automobiles replaced horses and buggies (saving countless horses); that is, technology has fueled social progress consistently in the past, and what's happening with this new technology is similar. I'm not surprised that Shapiro was able to line up such a compelling line-up of endorsers, from former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman (“Paul Shapiro provides a fascinating look at the future of food into the innovators who are working to interrupt and reinvent the food system”) to Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who sums up my thoughts on the book: “Read Paul Shapiro’s compelling and optimistic book.” Indeed. Disclaimer: I co-founded and run The Good Food Institute, which works on plant-based and clean meat innovation; GFI appears (and I appear) throughout the book.
Scientists are much closer than you might think they are to creating actual meat products without having to raise and kill animals, thanks to developments in growing identical animal tissue in a process that's surprisingly similar to brewing beer. If that idea excites you as much as it does me, I'd recommend pickup up Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World by Paul Shapiro. In this thoroughly engrossing book, Shapiro travels to various labs working to create meat and other animal products (e.g., cowhide, eggs, and dairy) outside of a living animal. This dive into the culinary future of clean meat (one suggested name for such products, along with lab-grown meat and cultured meat-- each with their own pros and cons) captures the fervor of entrepreneurs working to be the first on the market and brings to life just how close consumers are to seeing such products in their local grocery store. Earlier this year, I personally switched to a vegetarian diet, with the main reason for doing so being the benefits that plant-based diets offer in fighting climate change, promoting a more sustainable agricultural industry, and preserving the environment. Studies find that eating less meat is among the most impactful acts anyone can take towards reducing their personal carbon footprint. I'd say such environmental considerations got me 75% of the way towards this decision, with the remaining 25% coming from the ethical issues with the factory farming industry. My wife, on the other hand, had committed to a vegetarian diet the year prior for primarily the latter moral reasons. Seeing how different motivations could lead people to the same endpoint reminded me of how multiple reasons could justify the push for a clean energy transition-- such as the morality of protecting the natural environment, the catastrophic consequences of climate change, the economic benefits of renewable energy, the national security benefits of relying less on foreign fossil fuels, and more. Such a parallel between the energy transition and the push for lower global meat consumption framed my mindset as I read Shapiro's book, and I quickly realized as I pored through it that many other parallels exist between these technological and cultural shifts. See my full review to read about those connections: http://chesterenergyandpolicy.com/2018/11/13/clean-meat-how-lab-grown-meat-can-learn-from-the-renewable-energy-transition/
I picked up Clean Meat with the mindset of a pescatarian who is weary of the world's excess consumption of nonhumans as well as the inhumane treatment of them. I found many stories in the book that buoyed my spirits for a potentially kinder, better world. If you have no desire to educate yourself on how the world could be improved for both humans and nonhumans, this book is not for you. But if you have at least a niggling sense that the mass slaughter of innocent creatures is not a good thing, please read this book.