6 min
Steakholder Foods
Jul 12, 2022

How to Eat a Real Juicy Steak If You’re a Vegan

Cultivated 3D-printed steaks offer a cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and nutritious alternative to traditional meat.

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Steaks are immensely popular and loved by millions all over the world. Time and time again, steak lovers declare that in terms of flavor, nothing beats a juicy prime cut grilled to perfection. Yet if you ask us, the joy of eating a steak should not be exclusive to meat eaters. It should also be something vegans can eat. How is that possible? The answer is cultivated 3d-printed steaks.  

The need for a cruelty-free steak that is nutritious and sustainable

Vegans stay away from animal-based products for a variety of reasons. Many cite animal cruelty as the main reason they avoid meat, dairy and fish. Some vegans are concerned with their physical well-being and feel that a plant-based diet supports their health objectives. Others cite the negative impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment. Naturally, many vegans identify with all three reasons and can bring up additional arguments that are just as legitimate.

Does a vegan’s commitment to his or her morals and values mean they should not be able to enjoy a delicious steak? It would seem that way, but the answer is no. Steaks made from animal cells rather than animal slaughter are designed to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of meat production, are antibiotic free, and are on a path toward becoming 100% vegan-friendly.

cruelty-free steak

Cultured steaks are bursting with protein, flavor and goodness

What is a cultured steak? Let’s first define cultured meat. Cultured meat is the popular term for meat that is developed from animal stem cells rather than slaughtered farm animals. Here’s how it works. Stem cells are collected from living tissue. They are then placed in a media that is rich in nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, and salts. In short, they are given optimal conditions for proliferation, growth and development, similar to what they would get inside an animal’s body.

The process takes place in a fully controlled and sanitary laboratory environment.

To make a cultured steak, the stem cells must be 3D-printed into a steak structure. Once the steak structure is printed, it is placed in an incubator where the cells are given time and optimal temperature to differentiate into muscle cells and fat cells.

During this process, the muscle cells develop into fibrous muscle tissue resembling the density, thickness and length of a conventional cut of meat.. The end result is a tender, juicy steak that can be cooked on the grill and devoured.

Needless to say, because they are made from actual animal cells, cultured steaks are delicious, nutritious and packed with protein. And from a vegan’s perspective, they don’t come with the downsides of steaks produced from farmed animals. 

How is a cultured steak cruelty-free?

Cultured steaks avoid the slaughtering of animals. Animal cells are ethically harvested for the purpose of developing real meat. This represents a conscious effort to offer a solution that will reduce the practice of raising animals (in often difficult conditions) for slaughter.

Cultured steaks avoid the slaughtering of animals

Is a cultured steak actually healthy?

Lab-grown meat is meat and therefore possesses the nutritional profile of conventional meat. If a person shouldn’t be eating meat because of diet or health concerns, they will have the same issues with cultured meat.

One considerable healthy advantage of lab-grown meat is that it doesn’t have or ever need antibiotics. Why is this important? Because animals raised for slaughter are often given antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick. Traces of these antibiotics can be found in meat. When antibiotic-laced meat is consumed, over time, this can cause antibiotic resistance among humans which can lead to severe sickness and even death.

Another reason cultured steaks are considered healthy and safe for consumption is that they are grown in a sterile lab environment with no animals present and minimal human contact. Lab-grown meat is less susceptible to foodborne pathogens, such as E. Coli and salmonella, both of which are commonly transmitted by factory-farmed animals. According to the CDC, three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals.

What are the sustainability implications?

To produce meat for the masses, the conventional meat industry relies on the use of vast amounts of land and puts a constant strain on precious freshwater resources. Twenty-six percent of the earth’s terrestrial surface is used for livestock grazing. One-third of the planet’s farmable land is used to grow feed for livestock (Source: FAO). The global consumption of meat and animal products makes up 27% of humanity's total water footprint, 98% of which is used for animal feed.

As populations and demand for meat increase globally, mass market meat production is unsustainable. When compared to conventional meat, cultured meat is projected to reduce land use by between 63% and 95%. Cultured meat is also expected to use 51% to 78% less ground and surface (blue) water than conventional beef production (about the same as chicken and pork) (Source: Good Food Institute).

How does a cultured steak compare to vegan-friendly steaks?

When people think of vegan-friendly steaks or vegan-friendly meat in general, they mostly imagine a plant-based dish sold as a meat substitute. People who are vegans for moral or ethical reasons might be interested in trying cultured meat. When it becomes regulated and widely available, the experience may encourage them to go back to eating meat. Cultured meat, however, will not have much influence on vegans who lean more toward animal-free diets for health reasons or simply because they don’t like meat.

There are a lot of vegan steaks on the market. But when compared to cultured meat, vegan meat substitutes tend to be highly processed in an attempt to offer a close-as-possible meat-eating experience. Since cultured meat is real meat, the experience is already there and therefore, there is no need for adding extra ingredients or chemicals for flavor.

A real beef steak that’s vegan friendly? We are working on it

Even vegans crave a steak every once in a while. Fortunately for them, there are products out there, and even home recipes, to satisfy the craving.  And vegans don’t expect the real thing or even want the real thing. So, all’s good, right? Well, if they only knew what’s possible… Why should vegans be limited to steak substitutes when they can enjoy a real, savory, juicy steak experience without any animal having been harmed in the process? That’s right. A real steak made from animal cells rather than farm-raised animals. Cultured steaks won’t compromise vegan values, and if you’re expecting the real thing, it will taste a lot better than a vegetarian steak.

At Steakholder Foods, formerly MeaTech 3D, we are working hard to achieve the holy grail of meat – steak. Our cultured meat production methodology and innovative 3D bioprinting technology is helping us get there. In the future, we expect cultured meat to occupy a significant share of the overall market for meat products. Along the way, we hope meat lovers and vegans the world over will join our movement to make meat sustainable.

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