Cultivated meat could transform our food system. Let’s use images that do it justice

Cultivated meat needs fewer bad stock photos and more images of real, delicious products. We put together a guide for journalists and cultivated meat startups who would like to help make that happen.
Various different plates of alternative protein

What comes to mind when you think of meat? Maybe it’s the sound of a steak sizzling, the mingling smells of roasting chicken and herbs, or perhaps a memory of eating a meal with loved ones. Whatever it is, it’s probably not captured very well by whatever this is:

Cultivated meat in scientific lab settings
When searching for “cultivated,” “cultured,” or “lab-grown” meat, there are far too many blue gloves and petri dishes!

Those of us working to make cultivated meat a reality are doing so because we want a future where families and friends can connect over a delicious meal as we always have, but in a more sustainable, healthy, and just way. So why don’t the pictures you see when you do a Google search for cultivated meat reflect that brighter, tastier future? To ensure consumers recognize cultivated meat’s delicious potential, we need better images of it.

That’s why GFI asked several cultivated meat companies to give permission for journalists and others interested in cultivated meat to use the photos they’ve taken of their products. Check out our selection of photos that several cultivated meat companies—including Avant Meats, New Age Meats, Shiok Meats, Wild Type, and BlueNalu—have generously agreed to share under Creative Commons licenses. That means you can use the photos without having to request individual permission, as long as you give appropriate credit.

The images we use now will have a lasting impact.

Just like book covers influence sales and politicians’ clothes influence votes, images of food influence cultural attitudes and appetites,” said Max Elder, Research Director of the Food Futures Lab at Institute for the Future. “Images in popular media of cultured meat today look sterile, scientific, unappetizing; something to touch with a rubber glove or eat out of a petri dish. We need images of cultured meat that appear familiar and delicious, otherwise consumers will think the opposite before products even reach their plates.”

There’s no longer any lack of real-life cultivated meat photos that could accompany news stories on this topic. A number of companies have held small-scale tastings of their products, and the photos from these events present a mouth-watering feast!

Plant-based hamburger by mosa meat
Hamburger by Mosa Meat.

Members of AMPS Innovation have already taken an important step toward making images of real cultivated meat available for journalists. You can find pictures of cultivated chicken, beef, duck, carp, and yellowtail on their media resources page. Mosa Meat has also shared some images of their products.

Cultivated chicken by just
Chicken by JUST.
Cultivated salmon bisque by wild type
Salmon bisque made using Wild Type’s cultivated salmon. Photo credit Rachelle Hacmac. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

If you’re a journalist writing about cultivated meat, we hope that the photo collections linked above will be a useful resource for you. Stock photos of the fermentors used in beer brewing are a safe bet as well if you’re looking for more variety. Early prototypes of cultivated meat are being produced in laboratories, but once the technology is scaled up, we’ll be producing meat in facilities that look a lot like today’s breweries.

Cultivated yellowtail by bluenalu
Yellowtail in kimchi by BlueNalu. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Startups can help enhance cultivated meat imagery.

If you’re a startup working on cultivated meat, please consider mentioning the importance of selecting tasty-looking photos when you have conversations with journalists! Whether they’re your own or from the collections linked above, sharing delicious product imagery will go a long way toward improving the quality of the public conversation around cultivated meat.

Plant-based carp cakes by finless foods
Carp cakes by Finless Foods.
Plant-based shrimp dumplings by shiok meats
Shrimp dumplings by Shiok Meats. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Cultivated meatballs by upside foods
Meatballs by UPSIDE Foods.

Real pictures of cultivated meat are both more accurate and more appealing than the “blue gloves and petri dishes” stock imagery we see so often. If we want the public to help champion our vision of the better world that cultivated meat could help create, it’s on us to make sure we’re doing a great job of communicating what that world could look like. 

We encourage journalists and those in the alternative protein industry to check out our cultivated meat image library and use these images when communicating about cultivated meat. And if you’re part of the cultivated meat industry and have images you’d like to contribute, share your photos with us.

Header image provided by Wild Type, Avant Meats, New Age Meats, Shiok Meats (CC BY 4.0), and BlueNalu (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Claire bomkamp, ph. D.


Claire Bomkamp is focused on cultivated seafood and driving forward GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Areas of expertise: the science and technology of cultivated seafood, cultivated seafood startups, research, and university programs, scaffolding, science communication, fish puns.