Emily Baines
July 15, 2016 1:54 pm

It’s no secret that the meat industry is full of problems, both ethical and otherwise. If you want to feel guilty about your meat consumption, you can read about it or watch many, many documentaries. Those experiences alone will cause you to lose your appetite.

Nonetheless, we can’t argue that for many of us, there’s nothing quite as delicious as a tasty steak or juicy burger. But how are we to eat those meat treats without experiencing the massive amount of guilt that follows? The answer for some is lab-grown meat. You read that right. Meat grown in a lab.

In August 2013, a team of Dutch scientists showed off their lab-grown burger for a select group of people. The burger cost $330,000 to create, and was funded by Google co-founder Sergery Brin. Only three people tried the burger: creator and scientist Mark Post, author Josh Schonwald, and nutritionistal scientist Hanni Rützler. All found the meat “close” to tasting like an actual burger.

All found the meat “close” to tasting like an actual burger.

Rützler commented:

Schonwald, meanwhile, claimed the product tasted like “an animal protein cake.”

We have a feeling Ron Swanson would not be a fan… yet. Just give those scientists time.

We admit, if lab-grown meat helps cut down on animal cruelty, we’re fans. There are other benefits, as well: not only would the ability to mass-produce meat help feed the planet, it would solve a lot of the environmental pollution that comes with conventional meat production. Hanna Tuomisto, who researches potential environmental impacts of lab-grown meat for the European Commission Joint Research Center, said: “At the global level, if all meat would be lab-grown, the greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 80 percent, and the water use by 90 percent.” That’s a huge plus.

Lab-grown meat is built from cell samples that grow into the same tissue you eat. The nutritional benefits of this meat are still unknown. Registered dietician Joan Salge Blake, however, told The Washington Post that lab-grown meat has the potential to be healthier than conventional meat. “If they replace the saturated fats with omega-3 fats, that would be great for our health.”

Find the idea disgusting? Well, lab-grown meat isn’t going away anytime soon.

Scientists predict that by 2020 lab-grown meat will be affordable, tasty, and available to all. At least we won’t have to look away every time we drive by a field of cows.

To learn more about the future of meat, Eater made this fun video: