Will Restaurants Serve Test-Tube Meat?

Photo from canyon289

A few weeks ago, I asked a handful of my confidants whether or not they'd ever try meat that has been grown in test-tubes, before turning the question over to you readers. Somewhat shocking -- at least, to me -- is that a majority of online respondents answered "no" to the question; I'd assume that most people would at least give it a shot once. The results are close (as it stands, 53.8% of folks answer in the negative fashion) but the people have spoken: Test-tube meat is not for them.

But is it for those who really matter? By which I mean, those providing the food. To find out, I contacted a bunch of local restaurants and posed to them the same question: Would you use meat that was grown in test-tubes?

Here are their answers, from various owners and representatives:

The Oinkster

I spoke with Andre [Guerrero, owner of The Oinkster] about this and the test-tube meats isn't really something he has much to comment about. Will be interesting to see how this all evolves, and I'm kind of amazed at how many people you talked to who would be down to try it.

Umami Burger

We select our meat based on the quality and how it tastes. Right now, all of our beef comes in as fresh steak and is ground throughout the day. Meat from a test-tube doesn't sound like something we would do but who knows what the future holds.

Kogi BBQ

Currently, as it stands, we wouldn't use test tube meats. It would take away from the inner philosophies of our brand. But totally open to see how it pans out for other individuals and businesses.

Cafe Gratitude

We are a vegan restaurant and would therefore never serve a product that comes from an animal.

(Note: I know they're vegan. Just felt like testing them on this to make sure.)

Mohawk Bend

Since Mohawk strives to use products made in house as much as possible and nothing that is processed or manufactured, "test tube meat" is not something we would bring in house for our patrons.

Pacific Dining Car

PDC would never use such a product.

And now, the really two interesting answers of the batch:

Let's Be Frank Dogs

Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. While there are environmental challenges to feeding all the people on our planet, the notion that we cannot produce enough food for everyone is, at its premise, false. The challenges of feeding the world are not the limits of our ability to produce enough food, but rather our ability to distribute the food efficiently and equitably. Nearly 40 billion tons of food are wasted by US households every year through over shopping and over loading of plates. And just in Europe, the UK and the US, up to half their entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork. A full third of the world's entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste, this is enough to feed 3 billion people, and this would still enable countries to supply their entire populations with 130% of their nutritional needs. 10% of greenhouse gasses come from growing food that is never eaten. And the water used to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the needs of 9 billion people.
So rather than spending millions of producing "food" that is not needed, this money should be spent on improving distribution, improving waste management, promoting conservation and "smart shopping." But, and here is the rub, there is not a lot of profit in these activities. The motivation for feeding people factory food is to make sure that only the people that own factories can feed people, and essentially own the food system. A rancher or family farm cannot do the research, build the plant and create the marketing to make test tube meat a real alternative. This can only be done by international conglomerates who, like our big banks, do not answer to or hold in regard, the common folks. So, would we serve test tube meat as an alternative to our 100% American Grass Fed Beef "Tube Steak"? I think not.

A mouthful sure, but a point worth pondering. The best answer from the pool, though, came from Rhonda Reynolds and Rob Rowe, co-owners of one of my favorite establishments in the city...

Masa of Echo Park

We really had to ponder this! The idea of it is kind of creepy. We are in our mid-forties and remember when the TV had 3 channels (and you had to get up to change them), we got our first VCR, answering machine - huge breakthroughs in technology! Never would have dreamed then we would be checking email on a cell phone now...
Science fiction aside, the prospect of having an option for meat eaters that is seemingly "cruelty free" with no harm to animals is very appealing to us (we offer 1/2 off at the restaurant to anyone who adopts a shelter animal) so we wouldn't rush to say no. So much of what is on grocery store shelves already is genetically modified and either extremely harmful or absolutely fine depending on what study you read. This is one of those "only time will tell" scenarios and we wouldn't even want to guess at what the answer will be.
Apologies as this isn't really a "yes" or "no" answer to your question...this is the kind of thing we would definitely need more time to digest. Yes, we really did just say that. : )

Which certainly seems like a perfect way to sum up the general feeling restaurants seem to have when it comes to test-tube meats: No one wants to be the one to take the plunge, but if it becomes a proven consumer-demanded money-maker, well, who's to say they won't take another look?

Want recipes and food news emailed directly to you? Sign up for the new Food newsletter here!

About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
RSS icon


Jet Tila's Drunken Noodles Recipe


Arugula, Quinoa, and Plum Salad