Some researchers expect that in vitro meat, grown from stem cells in a bioreactor, could provide a sustainable and animal-friendly alternative to conventional meat.
In 2013 the world’s first lab grown burger was cooked. Nevertheless, many people still find it an unattractive idea to eat meat from a lab. And rightly so, because before we can decide whether we will ever be willing to consume in vitro meat, we must explore the new food cultures it may bring us.
The In Vitro Meat Cookbook is a project by Next Nature. I collaborated with the creative team in developing and visualising the wild recipes in typical meaty fashion (red ballpoint), with more than 40 “meta- illustrations”.
To start a new illustration the whole team would work together like a perfect mechanism, sitting first together to brainstorm, then with Francesca creating a quick photoshop sketch of the new dish for me to use as reference, which was great to organise and go through such amount of work.
The stylistic choice meant to communicate further than what’s merely the pictorial aspect of the image; as somebody would when encountering something utterly new, foreign and mysterious, we tried tried to document the In Vitro Meat Cookbook future until its most idle details.
Although it is tempting to think we will simply mimic the hamburgers, sausages and steaks we already have, in vitro technology also has the unique potential to bring us new food products, tools and traditions.
The In Vitro Meat Cookbook aims to move beyond in vitro meat as an inferior fake-meat replacement or horseless carriage, to explore its creative prospects and visualise what in vitro meat products might be on our plate one day.
“Beautifully illustrated with detailed sketches, the book is half-fiction, half scientific-inquiry” — Wired Magazine
The dishes have been created by a team of chefs, designers and artists to explore the potential of in vitro meat. Recipes range from knitted meat to meat fruit and meat ice cream. While some dishes are innovative and delicious, others are rather uncanny and even macabre.
The aim of the project was not to promote lab-grown meat, nor to predict the future, but rather to visualise a wide range of possible new dishes and food cultures to help us decide what future we actually want.
We developed a range of vegetarian symptoms while working on the project that for some of us evolved into a fully vegetarian condition, disabling us until this day to go back to our merry days of meat eating.