From the Series
Can you imagine eating nuggets made from dodo meat? Eating cubes made from the flesh of your favourite celebrities? Or knitting a steak from long lengths of muscle fibre?
These are the kinds of dishes on the menu of Bistro In Vitro, a virtual restaurant whose meat creations are removed from the constraints of the animal body. The menu features “Friendly Foie Gras” and meat foam cocktails, but what Bistro In Vitro most wants to serve you is some food for thought.
Submarine Channel and Next Nature Network developed the project, and its director is artist, scientist, philosopher and head of the Next Nature Lab Koert van Mensvoort.
Bistro in Vitro is an online science fiction documentary that explores the future of the meat industry. What would it mean to be a vegetarian if meat production were moved into a lab where no animals were killed? At Bistro In Vitro you can pet the animals whose flesh you are eating!
The population of the world is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. The quantity of meat that is consumed by the average person today is fast becoming unsustainable. It is impossible to ignore the environmental and animal welfare issues that surround the meat industry. Huge amounts of energy, water and land are used in the rearing and feeding of animals for consumption and most studies show that between 10 and 35 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the supply chain of producing livestock for meat.
Scientists have suggested that growing meat in laboratories might be one way forward. Stem cells can be harvested and then grown into muscle tissue in a culture. In 2013 the first lab-grown hamburger was created by a team of Dutch scientists and cooked and eaten at a live demonstration in London. But van Mensvoort wants to imagine beyond the familiar hamburger or sausage to the kinds of dishes you could never encounter in the wild and stretch the imagined limits of this new technology.
How about growing a medallion of your own flesh for three months to serve to your lover?
The project encourages viewers to get out of their food comfort zone and imagine what a chic restaurant in the future might look like. The dishes on the menu have been developed by a team of artists, designers, chefs, scientists and philosophers. Each option has a star rating, where five stars indicates that the dish could be created with technology available today and one star indicates the dish might not be available in the next couple of decades.
Bistro In Vitro imagines the new kind of food culture that this method of meat production would create. As more users interact with the project and make their menu selections the website will become a documentary of people’s attitude to in vitro meat.