US senator Cory Booker has tried and endorsed cell-based chicken, saying it “tastes phenomenal.”
The New Jersey politician, who eats a “mostly plant-based” diet, visited the San Francisco headquarters of Eat Just, Inc. earlier this month. The start-up creates cell-based meat for sale in Singapore, which is the only country to have approved it.
According to Andrew Noyes, vice president at East Just, this was the first time Booker had eaten meat since the 1990s.
“We were thrilled to welcome Senator Cory Booker to Eat Just’s headquarters for a tour, tasting, and a roundtable discussion about key issues facing the future of our food system,” Noyes told Plant Based News (PBN). “His enthusiasm for our mission was apparent throughout his visit. We look forward to working with him and other stakeholders on initiatives to accelerate American innovation in food, health, and nutrition.”
Booker appeared on podcast Pod Save America the day after his visit. He revealed he was “blown away” by the taste of the cultured meat. The senator also opened up about his views on shifting to a more sustainable food system. He said: “Empathy is the most necessary ingredient in change. You have to get people to know first — to confront the moral urgencies.”
The rise of cell-based meat
Cell-based or “cultivated” meat refers to genuine meat made by growing cells from animals in a cultivator. It is therefore not a product of animal slaughter.
To create cell-based meat, cells are taken from animals (supposedly painlessly), and made into meat in bioreactors. It’s often seen as considerably more ethical than meat from farmed and slaughtered animals. Still, cultured meat is not considered vegan since its production requires the use of an animal.
Experts argue, however, that cell-based meat could provide an answer to the ethical and environmental costs of animal meat. Therefore, many people in the vegan and plant-based communities strongly support its production.
Cultured meat in the US
In November of last year, it was reported that cell-based meat from Californian start-up UPSIDE Foods had been approved as safe to eat by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
While it hasn’t yet been granted approval to be sold, the company is now working with the USDA on the process toward commercial production and sales.