The basics

Cultivated meat is a game-changing alternative to conventionally produced meat that offers the potential to make meat in a healthier, safer, and more sustainable way. Cultivated meat is essentially the same as the beef, pork, chicken, and fish we eat today, but grown directly from animal cells, without the need for antibiotics, hormones, and steroids. 

By producing meat in this way, we can satisfy growing global demand for protein while reducing pressure on our planet and enhancing food security. When produced at scale using renewable energy, cultivated meat is projected to generate a fraction of the emissions and require a fraction of the land and water that conventional meat production does.

Nomenclature consensus 

Following multiple consumer studies and corporate surveys, industry consensus has landed on cultivated as the preferred term for meat grown directly from the cell. 

New research conducted in December 2022 by Embold Research and commissioned by GFI demonstrates consumer preferences for using “cultivated meat” over other terms such as “cultured,” “lab-grown,” and “cell-based.”  These findings mirror the results of two other studies: a 2019 GFI-commissioned Mattson study, and a 2020 Rutgers seafood study commissioned by BlueNalu. Both studies found “cultivated” to be consumers’ preferred term. 

An illustration showing the nomenclature consensus for cultivated meat

Globally, cultivated meat companies and key industry stakeholders have aligned on “cultivated.” Just last month, 30 key industry stakeholders across Asia—from companies to regional coalition groups, and government initiatives—adopted “cultivated” as the preferred English-language descriptor for all food products grown directly from animal cells.

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Cultivated meat visual library

Our cultivated meat image library presents an ever-increasing selection of cultivated meat images available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Check out photos from Avant Meats, New Age Meats, Shiok Meats, Wild Type, BlueNalu, and more!

Cultivated meat FAQs

Read responses to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to cultivated meat.

What is cultivated meat? 

Cultivated meat is essentially the same as the beef, pork, chicken, and fish we eat today but grown directly from animal cells, without the need for antibiotics, hormones, and steroids. 

Cultivated meat is projected to generate a fraction of the emissions and require a fraction of the land and water of conventional meat production. When produced at scale using renewable energy, cultivated meat can cut emissions by 92 percent, and use up to 95 percent less land and 78 percent less water than conventional beef.

How does cultivated meat compare? 

On taste: Cultivated meat has the same smell, texture, and consistency as the meat consumers enjoy today. It will also taste the same or better than conventional meat—given the production methods, it could have a purer taste and stay fresher longer.

On health: Produced in a clean and controlled environment, cultivated meat doesn’t require the antibiotics, hormones, and steroids that can be a concern for conventional meat. It is free of contaminants and foodborne pathogens.

On the planet: Cultivating meat is more efficient than conventional production. When produced at commercial scale using renewable energy, meat made in this way could produce up to 92 percent less emissions, and use up to 95 percent less land and 78 percent less water when compared to conventional beef production.

Is cultivated meat safe? 

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring the safety of foods available in the U.S. market and, together with the USDA, will regulate the sale of cultivated meat. 

Each cultivated meat product will be assessed by the FDA as part of a rigorous pre-market safety review. Cultivated meat companies must then follow the same processes that conventional meat companies must follow to ensure safe product production and handling. 

The clean and controlled environment in which cultivated meat is produced will offer numerous advantages for product safety, including the elimination of contaminants and foodborne pathogens, as well as antibiotics and other additives.

Can cultivated meat improve public health? 

Cultivated meat can be made without the antibiotics, steroids, and other additives that can be a concern for conventional meat. This means that cultivated meat will not contribute to antibiotic resistance. Read our blog post and Nature Food article for more on cultivated meat and antibiotics. 

Cultivated meat is produced in facilities with cleaner conditions than conventional meat processing facilities. This reduces the risk of both foodborne illnesses and other diseases transmitted by animals, reducing the risk of future pandemics. According to the CDC, three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals.

Words of support

From high-level government reports and directives to statements from leaders in industry and business, cultivated meat has been recognized as a powerful solution for creating a more resilient food system.

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“The world is experiencing a food revolution and the FDA is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply. As an example of that commitment, today we are announcing that we have completed our first pre-market consultation of a human food made from cultured animal cells.”

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Susan Mayne in a press statement on November 16, 2022.

In his September 2022 executive order, U.S. President Joe Biden demanded action on “cultivating alternative food sources,” including cultivated meat and fermentation.

The order acknowledged the promise of “cultivating alternative food sources” and “looking to improve food security and drive agricultural innovation through new technologies…[including] foods made with cultured animal cells.”

U.S. President Joe Biden in his Executive Order on September 12, 2022
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Former secretary of agriculture sonny perdue

“We’re going to see these technologies go to places around the world that are more conducive to their development, and frankly China may be one of those.”

“We’ve got new technology with stem cell protein growth there. While some people may be anxious about taking their markets, shouldn’t we in the United States be about how we can grow and feed people more efficiently and more effectively … these techniques need to be embraced, not kept out of.”

Former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a virtual fireside chat hosted by BIO in 2020 and in a 2018 interview with Organic Insider.

The UN Environment Programme’s Frontiers Report

This special issue of the Frontiers Report focuses on the potential environmental, health, social and animal welfare implications of the uptake of novel meat and dairy alternatives, in particular novel plant-based, fermentation-derived and cultivated products. 

“Novel plant-based meat, cultivated meat and fermentation-derived foods show potential for reduced environmental impacts compared to many conventional ASF. They also show promise for reduced risk of zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance, and can significantly reduce animal welfare concerns associated with conventional animal agriculture.”

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The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Mitigating Risk and Capturing Opportunity Report

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released this report in May 2023 detailing ways alternative protein can solve for growing demand for food, the environmental strain of mass food production, and pandemic emergence.

“With the need to de-risk global food systems growing increasingly serious, many high-income and import-reliant economies are investing in alternative proteins as a means to establish a more sustainable and efficient domestic protein production. While the climate change benefits of alternative proteins have been fairly well documented to this point, relatively less is known about the ability of alternative proteins to allay risks inherent to today’s food systems. These include global risks associated with pandemic preparedness and disease prevention, as well as national security risks related to economic competitiveness and biosecurity across future agricultural markets.”

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report released in April, 2022, where the world’s top scientists name cultivated meat and other alternative proteins as transformative solutions which can play a critical role in halving global emissions by 2030. It states:

  • Emerging food technologies such as precision fermentation, cultivated meat, and plant-based foods can “promise substantial reductions in direct greenhouse gas emissions from food production” (TS. 5.6.2).
  • Citing a paper co-authored by GFI Israel senior scientist Tom Ben-Arye, the report acknowledges that, while in its infancy and reliant on increased investments, innovation, and regulatory approval, cultivated meat offers a more sustainable alternative to current livestock production systems and agricultural land use (7.3.3).
  • As well as reducing emissions, sustainable proteins like cultivated meat “lower land, water, and nutrient footprints, and address concerns over animal welfare” (TS. 5.6.2).
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Breakthrough Energy’s Federal Climate Policy Playbook

This resource includes policy recommendations for cultivated meat and other alternative proteins as a critical component of reaching net-zero emissions. It states:

“The federal government should invest in robust R&D to further explore innovations such as (…) cellular agriculture, including stable cell lines, optimized cell culture media for growing meat, novel methods of scaffolding support for muscle and fat cell growth, and improved bioreactor designs.”

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Cultivated meat in the news

Read coverage by the world’s leading media outlets, who have followed on as the field of cultivated meat has evolved and grown.

CBS Sunday Morning featuring GFI’s Bruce Friedrich (July 9, 2023)
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U.S. Approves the Sale of Lab-Grown Chicken

GFI’s Bruce Friedrich on the global significance of the USDA’s grant of inspection for cultivated chicken.

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How we’ll eat in 2050

GFI’s Dr. Liz Specht talks to CNN about the major role alternative proteins play in the future of food.

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FDA gives 2nd safety nod to cultivated meat, produced without slaughtering animals

GFI’s Bruce Friedrich celebrates FDA’s greenlight of GOOD Meat’s cultivated chicken.

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Wall Street Journal: Cultivated meat explained

Wall Street Journal answers common questions about cultivated meat, with behind the scenes support from GFI’s lead cultivated meat scientist, Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

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Washington Post: Cultivated Meat at COP27

Washington Post covers the serving up of cultivated meat and food-system solutions at COP27.

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Lab-grown meat receives clearance from F.D.A.

GFI’s Dr. Liz Specht on what the FDA’s historic decision means for the cultivated meat industry.

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CNN: Cultivated Meat’s global potential

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria explores Singapore’s world-first approval of cultivated meat and the global potential of this new way of making meat.

Industry resources

Read these related resources to learn more about the burgeoning field of cultivated meat.

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Cultivated meat’s regulatory pathway 

The FDA has completed its first safety evaluation for cultivated meat. What comes next? Learn more about cultivated meat’s regulatory path to market.

The cover of the 2023 state of the industry report on cultivated meat and seafood by the good food institute

State of the Industry Report: Cultivated meat and seafood

This report details the commercial landscape, investments, regulatory developments, and scientific progress in the cultivated meat and seafood industry.

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Meat cultivation: Embracing the science of nature

We developed a set of science-forward, evidence-based communication tools, rooted in familiar language, to help explain meat cultivation to non-technical audiences.

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Cultivated meat LCA/TEA report analysis

Recent studies show cultivated meat could have reduced environmental impacts and be cost-competitive with some forms of conventional meat.

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The State of Global Policy on Alternative Proteins

Our annual State of Global Policy Report tracks public investment in alternative proteins and showcases the actions governments took to position themselves as leaders in the field.

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Transforming a 12,000-year-old technology

GFI President Bruce Friedrich argues for Nature that animal agriculture is an antiquated technology ripe for transformation.

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Cultivated meat as a tool for fighting antimicrobial resistance

GFI’s Claire Bomkamp on how antibiotic use in livestock and aquaculture production is driving resistance to medically important antibiotics.

Are you working on a story?

Access our full selection of media resources, including reports, data, and insights from the world of alternative proteins.

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Get the latest updates

Access our latest media statements on breaking cultivated meat news and other alternative protein developments.

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GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods approved to sell cultivated chicken following landmark USDA action

UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat received landmark grants of inspection from the USDA, allowing them to sell their cultivated chicken products in the U.S., marking a decisive moment in the…

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New GFI State of the Industry reports highlight untold stories and transformative potential of alternative proteins

2022 saw a record number of new companies join the fold, unprecedented government support, and a continued expansion of alternative protein products hitting the market.

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GFI celebrates FDA’s second greenlight to a cultivated meat company in a matter of months

GFI experts respond to FDAs “no questions” letter issued to GOOD Meat, marking the first time a cultivated meat product has received regulatory approval on multiple continents.

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Historic FDA decision: Cultivated meat “greenlit” in U.S. pre-market review

GFI celebrates milestone FDA decision, which paves the way for consumers to purchase meat cultivated directly from animal cells in the U.S. for the very first time.

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Arkansas Court Blocks Unconstitutional Meat Label Censorship Law

GFI, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the ACLU have secured a court order that finds an Arkansas food label censorship law unconstitutional and permanently blocks enforcement of the law against…

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New frameworks raise the bar on sustainability transparency of meat

FAIRR and GFI launch new first-of-their-kind reporting frameworks for alternative meat, seafood, eggs and dairy companies to reveal their climate, biodiversity, nutrition and other ESG impacts.

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IPCC: Plant-based and cultivated meat can play a critical role in halving global emissions by 2030

GFI calls for increased public funding for alternative proteins as the world’s top scientists recognize that agricultural innovation — specifically plant-based and cultivated meat — mitigates climate change, delivers co-benefits…

Regulatory framework for cultivated meat

Court Rules Louisiana Label Censorship Law Unconstitutional After First Amendment Challenge from Tofurky

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has granted a motion for summary judgment, halting enforcement of a labeling law in favor of Tofurky.

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Record $5 billion invested in alt proteins in 2021, surging 60 percent since 2020

2021 was a record period for alternative protein investments globally, with $5 billion raised by companies creating sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based foods.

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Former MoveOn head, coalition builder, and expert strategist Ilya Sheyman joins GFI as president

Ilya Sheyman will join GFI as President on February 22, to lead all aspects of GFI-U.S.’s programmatic and administrative operations. 

Upside foods' cultivation room

GFI celebrates UPSIDE Foods’ groundbreaking cultivated meat production facility, calls for public investment to massively scale and accelerate production

As UPSIDE Foods opens the world’s most advanced cultivated meat production facility, GFI urges increased investment from public and private sectors to speed up production and bring this better way…

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog becomes world’s first president to taste cultivated meat, recognizes alternative proteins as a key climate solution

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has become the world’s first president to taste cultivated meat, as the country officially embraces alternative proteins as part of its National Climate Strategy ahead of…

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GFI joins Representatives DeLauro and Clark in celebrating USDA funding of the first-ever National Institute for Cellular Agriculture at Tufts University

GFI joins Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) in celebrating the USDA’s investment in the creation of the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture: the U.S.’ first-ever government supported…

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Scientists awarded $5 million to boost research into alternative meats — a powerful and scalable climate solution

Despite booming commercial interest in alternative meat and the huge climate mitigation potential it offers, funding for academic research lags; GFI’s grant program is designed to address this shortfall and…

Nestle pb triple threat plant-based burger

Hybrid plant-based and cultivated meat product from Nestlé could be “transformative” in the race to recreate meat, says GFI founder and president

GFI Founder and President Bruce Friedrich says that Nestlé S.A.’s work to bring a hybrid plant-based and cultivated meat product to market could be transformative for the alternative protein industry…

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World’s first cultivated meat home delivery sparks call for public investment

As Eat Just and foodpanda partner to deliver cultivated chicken directly to Singapore consumers, GFI calls for public investment to spur innovation and bring even more products to the masses.

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Record $3.1 billion invested in alt proteins in 2020, 3x the capital invested in 2019

2020 was a record-breaking year for alternative protein investments globally, with more capital raised during this period than in any single year in the industry’s history.

Planet on plate

New studies further the case for cultivated meat over conventional meat in the race to net-zero emissions

A first-of-a-kind life cycle assessment and techno-economic assessment conducted by independent research firm CE Delft further the case for cultivated meat over conventional meat in the race to net-zero emissions.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes “one small bite for a man, one giant bite for humankind”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has today become the world’s first head of state to eat cultivated meat, enjoying a cultivated steak at a historic tasting event in Rehovot, just…

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Historic, first-ever sale of cultivated meat is a huge step, but more investment is needed to bring it to the masses, says GFI Executive

As Eat Just makes the world’s first sale of cultivated chicken, The Good Food Institute calls for more government investment to ensure cultivated meat can be produced in volumes that…

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The featured image showing cultivated chicken is courtesy of GOOD Meat