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Scientists are making lab-grown fat to mix into plant-based meat

Published Feb 28th, 2023 7:46PM EST
Image: dropStock / Adobe

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Plant-based meat could soon have lab-grown fat added to it to help make it taste better. Meat like bacon makes for a tasty meal, but if humans ever hope to move away from eating animals like pigs, cows, and chickens, scientists will need to find a way to make plant-based options taste better. One part of that could include using lab-grown fat to add more flavor.

According to a new essay featured in The Atlantic, the option of adding lab-grown fat to plant-based bacon (often referred to as fake bacon since it isn’t actually made from meat) is a saving grace for the industry that is currently swinging towards meatless meat. According to the essay’s author, Yasmin Tayag, the bacon was just as good as the real thing.

Not only was the plant-based bacon crunchy, as you’d expect from the tasty strips, but it also had a “satisfying chew” that was created by the lab-grown fat that was woven into it. The strips of bacon that Tayag tried were created by biotech startup Mission Barns, which created the plant-based bacon after growing pork fat grown in a bioreactor.

Fried eggs and bacon for breakfast on a plate.
Bacon is known for its crunchy yet chewy texture, something many plant-based options can’t deliver. Image source: petrrgoskov/Adobe

Animal fat has proven to be a pivotal item for many industries, including how it helps to cook food. Plant-based options, while useful, just don’t always offer the same fidelity as meat-based alternatives. That’s why being able to produce lab-grown fat could literally change that part of the market forever.

Of course, drizzling fat made in a lab into plant-based meat doesn’t solve all of the problems surrounding this part of the industry. In fact, it doesn’t address the lack of nutritional value that these plant-based options offer. Real meat is rich in protein, for example, while plant-based options miss a lot of that needed protein. There’s also the fact that lab-grown fat isn’t cheap to make.

As such, putting it into every plant-based meat just isn’t feasible, especially if you want to keep prices down. But, with the industry slowly looking for ways to create meat in labs, including even making 3D-printed steaks, having lab-grown fat to help the process out could at least get innovators thinking of new ways to press plant-based meat forward.

Unfortunately, all we can really do is wait and see where this kind of development goes, and whether it proves worthwhile or not.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.