Lab-grown meat of lions, tigers, zebras and elephants will be soon be served up in restaurants – by a vegan entrepreneur.
The cultivated meat revolution has gained strength after sales of plant-based meat alternatives flattened out at the end of 2021.
But never before has anyone proposed putting endangered species on the menu – until now.
Yilmaz Bora is managing partner of Ace Ventures, which has launched startup Primeval Foods.
He explains: “We are making foods that carnivores will crave.
“We are focused on exotic animals like the lion, tiger, zebra, elephant and panther, because we need to do something different.
“It will be a culinary experience.”
But will it change the habits of meat eaters across the world? And will vegans welcome this controversial method of anti-slaughter?
What Is Cultivated Meat?
Cultivated – or cultured – meat, is grown in a lab, using a tissue sample from an animal. So in effect it is real meat, but without any harm being done to the animal.
Yilmaz knows that most vegans won’t touch the stuff, because it is still the flesh of an animal. But plenty will consider it an option, because slaughter is avoided.
His mission is not to satisfy vegans, however, but to move eating habits away from meat – for the sake of the billions of creatures killed on farms every year, and the devastating environmental impact of emissions and habitat loss.
Yilmaz is currently working with two labs, in Turkey and the United States, which are responsible for collecting the cells of captive exotic animals. From those cells, the cultivated meat is created.
“We source cells from animals without slaughtering or hurting them, then we isolate stem cells and feed and grow them in a bioreactor with amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and other essential nutrients,” he explains.
“Based on the animal type, it takes a few days to a few weeks to have a kilogram of edible meat.”
Where Can You Buy Cultivated Meat?
Lab-grown chicken has already started to appear around the world on food store shelves and in restaurants, and a growing number of startups are investigating cultured meats of a wide range of animals.
But Yilmaz and Ace Ventures are out there alone in offering lion and tiger steaks, and zebra sushi.
Isn’t he concerned that people might get a taste for lion meat – and that will encourage poachers in the wild to get the real thing?
“No, I don’t believe that will be a problem. Most of the exotic animals are endangered species, which means it is illegal to slaughter and trade them in most countries.”
Yilmaz is targeting restaurants in major global cities to offer tasting experiences this year, but his number one aim right now is to launch in New York.
Why? “Food is about culture, love, social classes, dopamine, experience, Instagramability and more.
“New York is the world’s capital of food and food culture. If we want to change how people eat, we have to do it there first.”
Before then, Yilmaz and his team will have to wait for the United States to confirm its regulations of this emerging industry. Then he has the world market in his sights.
Yilmaz has certainly taken the cultivated meat revolution to another level. Could this be the future of slaughter-free food?