The push to find alternatives to the traditional production of meat isn't confined to humans. Modern Farmer has an amazing stat to illustrate the issue: "If cats and dogs made up their own country, they would rank fifth in terms of meat consumption." The need to produce all that meat for pet food takes a toll on the environment in the form of 64 tons of carbon dioxide a year, writes Shelby Vittek. And while plant-based meat alternatives may be gaining traction with humans, they won't work for pets, or at least for cats, which need actual meat to survive. Solution? Cell-cultured meat. The process involves taking cells from living animals, then nurturing those cells in the lab until they essentially grow into a piece of meat. At least two startups, Because Animals and Bond Pet Foods, are working on it.
"More than a quarter of the environmental effects of animal growing is due to the pet food industry,” says Shannon Falconer, CEO of Because Animals. “What this [cell-cultured] food would provide is the first environmentally sustainable, ethical meat for people to feed their pets.” Because the concept is so new, his company doesn't plan to have a product on shelves until 2022. An entry from Bond Pet Foods will probably arrive the following year. The story includes a quote from a representative of the meat industry, in this case Sarah Little of the North American Meat Institute. The group's position on cell-cultured meat is that it be clearly labeled so consumers can decide for themselves whether to choose it over the traditional stuff. (You can get a ribeye steak via this method.)