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Billion Dollar Burger

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Billion Dollar Burger

Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food


15 min read
7 take-aways
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What's inside?

High-tech meat, grown in labs from animal cells, could mitigate animal agriculture’s ecological damage.

Editorial Rating



  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging


Today’s meat and dairy businesses operate industrial agricultural facilities that take a heavy toll on the environment. A few dozen start-up companies hope to fix this problem by growing meat in lab vats using starter cells from living animals. Reporter Chase Purdy turns an arcane subject into an entertaining narrative, with clear explanations of the technology involved in lab-grown meat, and profiles of two colorful advocates: Dutch cell-cultured meat pioneer Willem van Eelen, and vegan activist Josh Tetrick,who runs the first billion-dollar-valued Silicon Valley food technology start-up.


Meat is among the most significant factors driving global climate change.

Mitigating the effects of global warming must involve addressing the role meat plays as a staple in diets worldwide. The enormous global meat industry, which includes animal farming and food processing, is a major source of greenhouse gases. In a world facing potential food shortages, animal agriculture is a poor use of resources because it requires vast stretches of land for growing animal feed.

Reducing meat consumption would help cope with this environmental threat, but cutting meat from the dinner table feels like a deprivation to many people. A worldwide collection of start-up businesses aims to offer a high-tech alternative to traditional meat production: “cell-cultured meat.” Instead of raising and slaughtering animals for meat, these companies propose collecting microscopic cells from living animals and using those as starters for growing meat in sterile laboratory vats. Proponents claim this lab-grown meat will have the same nutritional makeup as meat from animals. The companies racing to be the first to bring cell-cultured ...

About the Author

Chase Purdy has reported for Quartz and POLITICO, and is a National Fellow at New America.

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