« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#28 — Meat Without Misery

2016-02-20 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris offers a few more thoughts on Clinton vs Sanders, as well as on the ethics of strong encryption. He then speaks with Uma Valeti, cardiologist and CEO of Memphis Meats, about the future of food production. 

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Well today, I'm going to give you a podcast that I really just stumbled into. I was on a phone with a man named Uma, Valeti, a cardiology, two is now running, a company called Memphis meats and he is trying to bring to market what he calls cultured meat. Meat that is synthesized from cells of cows or pigs or any other common food animal, but is grown by processes. The do not entail whole animals to be born, live and die under the terrible conditions of factory farming or any other conditions. This is me grown outside the usual biological process of being attached to a full animal. It entails, none of the animal suffering or You'll hear the other environmental and health relate the concerns of factory farming,
So, in any case, I was on the phone with OMA and the moment we got into the conversation I realized. This is something that you guys should know more about. And so I just converted a phone call into a podcast and that's, how I'm bringing you now, Luma Villetti cardiologist turned entrepreneur and food produce enjoy well. Here with Uma of the CEO and CO founder of Memphis meats and many of you know, I've been in interested in vegetarianism and veganism and the the ethics of factory farming, and I stumbled into an interest in Emerging possibility of synthesized meat and Uma is now running what appears to be the
most prominent effort in this area. So my thanks for coming on the podcast. Thank you SAM. I'm delighted to be here so tell me a little bit about how you got into this and get your background you I just got thrown together on Twitter. I thought maybe I should get into how we come to be talking to one another. I saw a tweet, from the philosopher Peter Singer, who, as many people know as a a very outspoken fender of the rights of non human animals and has been probably more influence, than anyone in philosophy to sensitize people to the ethical problem of what we eat and how we get food to our table, and so he sent out a tweet. That contained a link to a Wall Street Journal article about your company, Memphis meats. And so that's how I heard about you and- and I was inspired on the basis of reading that article to put out a poll.
Twitter asking people that if synthesized meat was molecularly identical to natural meat to beef and pork and the other meats we eat. And yes to the same, would you switch to eating it and the results of that poll were something like eighty five percent said they would switch. And then I asked do you know the who said no the reasons why, in in in in the the reasons why we're pretty encouraging some said they were already vegetarian about a quarter said they were already vegetarian and therefore weren't interested. So that's all obviously not the market, your work about and then we'll get into the reasons why people are a worried about synthetic meat. But let's get into your background and tell us what you hope to accomplish Sure SAM. First of all, I want to thank you for the random sequence of events that led us to talk to each other, and I want to Peter singer for treating out Wall Street Journal article that came out on Monday last
and since then, it's absolutely being a global response that has inspired us and delighted us that that there is a large group of people in the world waiting for a really good made product that they could get behind and feel good about it and and now. Having said that in to do a little bit of my background, I grew up in them in India. In a family that ate meat, and I really enjoyed eating meat, and I think I had a seat is for experiences sense and from I was a twelve year old or five years and a lot of seventeen and is Actually the first one was when I was twelve. I went to my neighbor or was it was a good friend of mine for his birthday party and in the front of the house. There was a you know: well, organized party people gathering day something eating. You know, there's lots of meat out there, an singing happy birthday, and I just happen to walk to the back of his house and that's where they were slaughtering the the animals
that are becoming meet in the front and to me it was one of the Starkey, Yes, I remember that I had that there was a birthday and then there was a there was a death day all in the same in a span of time and kind of disturb me. But you know I did like the taste of meat and I continued eating me da. Growing up into my teenagers. Where were you in India are in South India in a place, call Vijay, Wada in Andra, Pradesh and your, Lee was or is a muslim or christian or what? What? What's your background? So my my grandfather was a freedom fighter worked out with Gandhi and are I come from my he Family CBS you're, not eating beef. I presume right. I never ate beef growing up, but that was all of the types of meat chicken, Lamb, shrimp fish, but beef was not part of our. You know day
the menu, but as I went to medical school after that, I went to medical school in South India in a place called Pondicherry arguments, institutional scholarship, Marin, it was X, a group of fifty students are selected from the twenty five states approximate of what do. Kids per state was selected to get into this all all India Institute and out. We had to run out on cafeteria. It was all a student Do you lie about medical school for operations, and I was in charge of the cafeteria for three months and I work at lots of chefs and kind of made the cafeteria very popular, because we so the best style food out there, but I also went to the market to procure a lot of meats and uh, I actually saw large scale animal slaughter and I was disturbed by you know a couple of things. One is The inefficiency with which you know we were converting all the vegetables and grains into a small amount.
Meet, but what bothered me was the way it was done and uh. I told myself on that day there. If there is a major problem in the world I'd love to solve. This would be right up there at the top and continued along on medical science, and I became average vegetarian in medical school? What's really miss the taste of meat and really struggle to stay? A budgetary and subsequent to that? came to the Usi, wanted to train other mayo clinic so, you're doing cardiology and international cardiology and advanced imaging, and during that process I really got interested in understand. Muscle, and how muscle regenerates from a hard perspective when I was treating patients that
cardiac arrests or heart attacks, and I was doing procedures on them and injecting stem cells into their hearts and watching that muscle, regenerate at and that kinda led to a thought of white country. Do the same process and and double up a method to grow meat, and it was so very out of the box idea and, as I started talking to people about it, no, I got very curious eyebrows lane a listing and think yeah. That's that's interesting, but no one really give it much of a serious thought and up. I started searching on the internet and came across this organization called new harvest which, was founded by a in a brilliant in a thinker philosopher named Jason Metheny in two thousand five. Just about the time when I graduated from cardiology at the Mayo Clinic and I wrote to chase and its adjacent, I really think this is something we should explore and I used to go to watch DC on a regular basis back down, and I I met Jason and he asked me to be on the board of new harvest and after serving on the board of new harvest for three years. One thing that was abundantly
for me was that there was a significant amount of interest globally. Not just in the US in places you traditionally called progress, so maybe few cities on the course but globally people were asking. Could we do this better but we do a more sustainable meat, production methods or techniques, and there were academics writing there. Were investors, writing and just general public who are interested in this concept and At that point honestly, I never thought I would start a company myself. I was just trying to encourage academics or others. Kind of start ventures in this area, and it was very you know and lightning for me because, while up there was a lot of interest among people, there was nobody willing to take the step in sync. Yes, I'm going to dedicate my carrier to make this a reality. There are number of experts in tissue engineering in academic labs who had phenomenal grants to do medical research, but for them to shift their carrier
focus and also their labs focus into a totally new field which did not have any federal funding or NIH funding was a big risk, and essentially, academics are also running their own business because they have to run their labs, pay salaries to their Ph Ds. Who came believing in them brand It was a huge risk for them to shift their priorities, and that's when I decided that look. I've been thinking about this, since I was twelve I have a phenomenal career. I've been building in cardiology, but there are thirty. Five thousand biologists out there in the US, and I decided that I'm going to assemble a team myself and start a venture, and you know I interviewed a number of Phd. To a deep experience in skeletal muscle, biology and found. My co founder was named naked Genovese who also has been on the same mission for the last fifteen years and we teamed up to get
and we said, let's put an idea to the venture capital group in San Francisco and if there is interest in the private sector, that is where we should be, because we can motivate people to really help us solve this and it's been a surreal experience in the last six months that we wrote to this venture capital group called SOS ventures and within an hour of her application, they were on the phone saying we want you to move down here and we believe in this idea- and since then it's been a wave of interest from all kinds of people, mediator, soul, love eating meat and some who love the taste of PETE, but still had some some guilt eating it and then from vegetarians and vegans who? What thinking? If we should read find the definition of what a vegetarian or vegan is. If this meat comes from not slaughtering and
but in a in a long answer for you, but I did want to walk you through the process. No, it's great, it's great to know how you came to this. This is such a pain point, and it's it's a pain point that I thank God. I'm many people are are just reluctant to acknowledge, given their attachment to and and perceived dependence on eating meat. I am now rather famously one of these people who stumbled into a kind of self intervention on my own podcast, where I was talking to the the psychologist a blue. We each put on our shore. List of things that our future descendants would be scandalized by's scandalized by the slaveholders in our recent past? We both said that our descendants will be horrified to know what we did with factory foreman. The way we mistreated, and killed billions of animals in a way that-
manage to do more or less with a clear conscience. Simply because we were keeping the details out of sight out of mind. And you know as it just in that podcast I I'm more or less can Ste my hypocrisy, I realized that that I found the details morally indefensible, and I found it kind of a starkly ethical area of my life around which I wasn't, Billy Payne much of a psychological cost. Because again I wasn't thinking about it. I was just food was magically arriving on my plate every meal, and I was obviously I'm not idiot. I know I know what the details, our, but I managed to not pay attention to them, and and many many millions of people- I would argue- most people are accomplishing. The same cycle Ical experiment in their own lives and if they were forced to meditate on the details, both the ethical, tails and just the economic and environmental issues which perhaps will go in
even if even if you're totally sanguine about- killing animals and giving them miserable lives up until the moment of their deaths. It seems to me that very few people can be sanguine about. The environmental and health and economic implications of of what factory farming is doing to our world, So it doesn't surprise me at all that there is, or will be a huge market for this. If you can accomplish your aim so too, so, let's talk a little bit about just what is entailed. Are the road blocks between where you are now and and what you would hope to accomplish? Yes, so let let me explain to you the process they're in a very high level. What we're doing is, instead of growing a full animal or what call to twenty four months and then slaughtering it and just taking the meat we like and May the bones in the skin, under the hair, what doing is
We are growing the same meat from the fundamental building blocks of life, which are the meat cells. So we identify the best meat sells possible from whether it's a cover a pig, let's say from shoulder or a top sirloin and from these cells we identified those that are capable of self renewing themselves and we cultivate them in a very safe and clean environment so that they can grow. Just like a small plant grows into a plant using nutrients, I mean I assets, peptides, minerals, vitamins, oxygen, sugars and once we get the meat to a consistency that we like for the product, we harvest the meat and if we harvest the meat early on in the process of of of growing to meet and it's more like tender cuts of meat, and if we wait a little bit longer, it's more texturized so but that's a very high level picture of what we're trying to do, and we feel pretty confident that the science has been worked out in our minds and
not experiments so far, as well as the prototypes we've being able to make and and you know from the Wall Street Journal, article we've completely grown, cooked and tasted meatballs, as well as fajitas and that was a watershed moment on them in our company's life, because While we knew we could do it. We just did not know how it was going to taste and once we put that in our mouths and also some other investors and tasters. It was abundantly clear within a few seconds that it had a very distinct meet flea that I completely forgot about for the last several years, because I was eating meat analogs, whether they were made from plant proteins or texturized vegetable protein. And- and that was a watershed moment and when you good good, got the taste issues sold and we have to continue to work on the types of products, texture formulations. So to come back to your original question, what are hurdles? I think the biggest hurdle for us to get to market as fast as possible is funding and the rate at which we could
is finding then the second one is the ability to scale up to a level where we can manufacture this in large quantities and basically align or integrate with the current distribution systems, because what we're trying to do is to make the upstream processing that's really felt. The are not very clean out in human, be replaced by this new system of growing meat, but we can still continue to use all the distribution you know made me distribution made formulation, packaging, consumer packaging goods and the usual rod that current meat industry uses at the third Cutler C is perceptions, and this is where your poll, I'm dollar, coincidence, all our past, really helped, because that fifteen thousand members, hold about eighty three percent of them, who said they will absolutely switch and a few other polls we've seen so far. Tell us, that perception, may not be such a big hurdle.
I'm sure we will have some issues with that, where we have to explain why our meat is just as natural as in fact, more natural than what we're eating now, because we are growing it and safe clean environments using natural substances. So, for example, there are no antibiotics, there are no contaminants and, I would say this, and maybe other people would also agree with me that there is nothing natural about the conventional meat we're eating now, because the chickens that
eat, now grow six to seven times faster than what they were in the natural environment. The cows give about ten times more milk than what they would naturally kept on. The turkeys are so top heavy that they can't even stand up to breed, and there is nothing natural aboard that that's just the state of how modified Genentech Lee or and why mentored they've been by the current meat production techniques on to top that off, because they're grown in such intense confined conditions. Let's say a thousand takes in a small bond, that's filled with feces service material they have to pump these animals with antibiotics, which leads to antibiotic resistance and super bugs and also sets up the stage for really bad, so not diseases like the bird flu. What does find full we hear about every year now?
None of that is that in our process, so I would argue instead of calling the synthesized meat or synthetic meat. This is more and naturally cultured meat, because we're letting this cells grow naturally and providing them with a naturally safe environment, and I think our work and I'm hoping lots of other people follow Us- is going to define a new kind. Agriculture, that'll change the baby approach for the future. I want to get on to the perception issue, because I think it's, I think, that's a fascinating one and I and that the response to that to the poll was signed. I think for use with their but I don't want people to ignore the very condensed litany of concerns. Health concerns mostly that you just went through because a You know have to get into it at length, but when you talked about the level of antibiotic use or the emerging epidemics and even feared pandemics based on our proxy
the livestock and the mingling of livestock, for instance, you've got these open air poultry markets in Asia, where you know wild waterfowl, drop their drop names, or even are caught and sold in confinement with chickens. I mean this is the reservoir of Bird flu, and a all of the subsequent mutations in these viruses that you know. We are wisely worried about two, which was very, very likely kill in the worst case, hundreds of millions of people if we had a proper pandemic and now as to the slew of nineteen. Eighteen, that's just one reason why living in proximity to live stock for the indefinite future is a problem. But then you talk about pumping these animals that we eat with antibiotics because of how unhealthy they are and are living in confinement, it's it the things to get out of this business are just manifold, and so now you're
taking us to a new reality where you could grow cells that are really picked for their health and aesthetic, properties, never associated with living animal that can suffer and die, and these cells can be the basis for various formulations of what is in fact, at the molecular level real before real pork every bit as real as it would be from a living animal. Before we get into the perception issue, I just want to talk a little bit more about. The underlying science. Is there any way in which this is risks being a false promise terms of the reality of what, in fact, you are culturing tell me how can go wrong, how you can be confused about the molecular
identity between the beef cells, you think your culturing and what in fact, you're producing pull back the lid on the vat that you are using to culture, these cells, of course yeah. So I'm going to talk about it from the perspective of what we've done so far, what we've seen and of course, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but when we take these meet cells, they you're very defined what we call a phenotype, which means when we put them under a microscope and we observe them and we compare them with the
same types of cells from a slaughtered animal. For example, we can pick it up from an organic store and look at it under a microscope. They look identical. They have the same features that you would expect in the in the meat like multinucleated muscle, fibers, that contract and a basil state and also contract. When we stimulate them identical to how meat from the slaughtered animal would do and when we continue to grow them, they keep behaving just like what muscle cells, the muscle fibers, do they try to come and join each other farm, larger and larger and larger bundles and as they mature, they try to exercise and they become thicker and do all the same things. What normal muscle would do as we start putting them together into food and creating that the meat? That's a small block of meat and put on a pen. They behave identical to how me toward sizzle it's weird Braun, Edward Smile, as we do this and finally, the taste test. So we should be feel from what
seen so far. It is identical to meet and the difference is the following: are meat is a lot more protein packed and lean than what you would get from a cut of meat from the supermarket, because there is a large amount of saturated fats that are also there in that cut of meat and in terms of making our mid safer and healthier? Here is one big advantage. We can control how much fat we can put in there, as well as what types of fat and lower the amounts of cholesterol or saturated fat, but increase the types of fats that are beneficial for heart. Health, for example, omega three fats. So I think from that perspective we feel like there's a lot more flexibility. We will have then growing a full Cowan trying to modify how the
it could be more healthier for humans. So I hope I answered your question. Yes, I I think it might be useful to just go to the second Paul. I ran of the people who said no at this point because so, as you said, eighty three percent said: yes, they would switch, but so that the reasons why people said no hi twitter limits you to for answers here. So I have I it's just creepy. It might not be safe. It will expensive, I'm a vegetarian, slash vegan. So those were the four reasons and they were evenly split more or less. It was more or less a quarter for each let's save is just creepy again, because I really think that is the most interesting and important hurdle it over, but I I so we're we're it was. It was begun to talk about the second one, the safety issue in terms of idea. Are you gonna be eating? What, in fact, you think you're eating and it's pretty clear that, given that you can control
the additives- and you can decide whether you need to put antibiotics in there or not and the rationale for doing so, presumably would be vastly diminished in the case of cultured meat, as opposed to animals living in overcrowded and healthy conditions. Are there any other safety variables here? You need to consider if you're you're, you're you're working, presumably in a antiseptic environment. This is functioning like a science experiment which you then have to bring to scale talk about the safety issues. But yes, so we've touched the safety issues in terms of the need for and to buy a
which we want to have. We also touched on the safety issues related to not having intense animal operations that can set the stage for diseases like blood flow. We've also touched on how the meat can be a lot more healthier from a let's say, for example, heart health perspective, but using beneficial fats. One of the things we haven't dialed touched on is that when we detach meat production from the slaughter of an animal, that is, I other big safety issue that our audience need to know, which is rather, your meat that you buy from the grocery store now is grown in like intense animal operation or if it's a free range grass fed no cattle on the best pastors in the world. At the time of slaughter, there is contamination of the meat from fecal material or from the guts, and that's a huge safety
sure, be cause most of the deaths from food borne illness. The us are related to contamination of meat, and that won't be there in our case, because we are attaching the slaughter from the meat production. Now. What I can't guarantee and no food no food manufacturer can is, if you leave. This meat out after you buy it from the grocery store and just leave it out for awhile, then the chances of it getting contaminated or bacteria growing in it or uh. Less than conventional meat, because intrinsically the meat doesn't have bacteria. But I could see that the media for open can be spoiled and someone eats it. Then they could get sick and that's one of the safety issues. They're going to have to be open to for any food in terms of the factory itself will be produced this. It's the it's going to have multiple points of testing. To be sure that there is no additives, are contaminants, that are getting into this process and because they're going to be automating a lot of this, and also including technology such as
robotics and and machine learning. There will be probes along the way that are going to for the health of the cells, the amount of glucose, that's and the nutrient medium and really replenished thanks as the cells are growing and the meat is crying. So while I can foresee a safety issues at this point, I, as we start link up. We have to deal with. You know some of the problems inherent to scale up as industry word and we're going to the one thing I do I mentioned SAM's when we're manufacturing and putting these products out of the market. The public and visit all our manufacturing plants and walkthrough get tours kids from schools can see how it's being made cause. All of this will be transparent if we do not have to shut off the passing from the meat production. So I feel like this is an education, and people will see what they're getting and once they taste
that's when they'll absolutely switch over here with it again. This is fascinating to consider, because I I realize many of our listeners are probably thinking about this for the first time. This is just not because I'm virtually thinking about this for the for first time and the questions I'm asking you are really arising in my mind for the first time, because it's just it's just not a not something that anyone new was on the horizon in quite this way, just to walk over that ground again, so that nothing gets lost. Losti we're coming up on the question of it being creepy which I think bundles many intuitions- that I think are dis confirmable and we should just sort not them down as they arise? The sense that people have that this is unnatural. Right. So you're growing meat in a vat of some kind and so that we have, we know white lab coded science producing. Meet. This does not seem like a natural process. What seems natural is to kill an animal, and so the
Anna ties to denatured aspect of this, I think, begins to worry, worry people, and they feel that there's some something about this. That may be less healthy because it's unnatural, but then, if you, if you, if you just take a moment to consider the filthy chaos of an abattoir, I mean that the at the idea that there's anything about the process of how our meat is gathered, especially at the end that is safeguarding the health of the human beings who will eat this. May I mean it's just you the moment. You look at some of those videos or read about the process or consider the level of each call liar salmonella or other contamination. We get a highly imperfect way, try to guard against or the the prion diseases. You know me
mad cow disease, which we don't even test for in certain circumstances. In fact, the USDA at one point made it illegal to test for because they didn't want to set a precedent requiring everyone to test for it. So if this is a, I mean the details, just just scream health disaster in the making. When you look at what the process actually is an so that's what we are, in the process you are describing to you, don't get a lot of reassurance by the word natural once you actually look at what's going on in a form. Are there any other safety variables that you're aware of that you're? You need to overcome not
this time, because we've been steadily adding to our science and trying to make sure that the cells are moving into meet cells and behaving the way they should. But if at any point there is an issue with the credit to safety, we're going to have to address that. But at this point I can save completely. But the clear are I yeah what they've done so far, we haven't seen any safety issues, and forgive me I if I this just reveals my ignorance of the cell biology here, but so you have cells that are proliferating in what sense are these not bovine cancer cells or porcine cancer cells. Is that a meaningful distinction in this context? Yes, that's a very good question to ask because the cells we are talking about on May
naturally found in all the meat people are eating right now. So if these are cancer cells, people have been eating them for centuries, in large quantities and and that's the distinction we'd like to draw we're identifying the cells in the muscles of these animals that are specifically put in place. They are bye. Bye, the biology of the animal is too to help them prepare their muscle if there is any injury during the process of their growth. So let's say: if there is a cow, that's got a muscle, injury and that muscle has to be it to be repaired. These cells can can and they'll go under pair that area and they're already in the muscle and all we're doing is via identifying those cells, because we know what they're capable of renewing themselves into fresh and healthy muscle? Therefore, these are not cancer cells that we are take out. These are cells that people are already eating in their meat everyday So you know you are then developing
cell line of these cells and proliferating, club bones of a single cell or how or is their diversity in the in the cells you use. How does that work yeah? So without going into a lot of details of the intellectual property behind it, because this is one of the hardest fields and we are filing a tremendous amount of like to property? I can say in broad strokes that we have technologies that can do this without making a cell line, but also we're not going to ignore the tremendous potentials of having the cells grow into is a line that can be a source of the cells for a long time. So you know you're asking the questions. So how do you get your cells at this point and what interaction with living animals as is required to do that? And and what will the process
change in the foreseeable future. Yes, so so right now, from purely a scientific up perspective, we can get these cells from animals without requiring to harm them. We can take a biopsy from muscle tissue and identify the cells, but on the same token. We could also get these from an animal that is already going to the current meat production process and is being slaughtered, and we can take a small amount of cells and then store them and bank them so that we can then detach the process from Going back to the animals, so we already have some cells bank that you're using and have been using in the last hour. You know several months to make make the the meatballs that they've done so we did not have to go back to the animal at all, but I can foresee a time in the future of our people might say: could you make made from this type of fire all our this call? Was beef in the world is known to be the best beef
Could you do that? I can foresee a time where we could go and take another biopsy from them or, if they're in the meat processing with the current meet action we might be able to take a small sample and then use those cells, so we don't have to go back to the animal again it's about. I would imagine the the in terms of the aesthetics of it, the taste and and the texture there's probably a challenge in getting in the mix of cells right right, so that it's a because not just one type of cell, that one is eating. One wanted to stay. A core whatever it is. What how much of a challenge is that I I I notice you started with a meatball, which I guess is the equivalent of starting with with ground beef is that is, it is culturing a steak that tastes and feels just like a steak, a much harder to
Yes, so I think we're starting off with with the intention of getting on the market as soon as possible with products that people are like. Americans love like hot dogs, burgers, meatballs and sausages 'cause. These are products that have a taste and texture that we could very easily and quickly emulate and get on the market. But when you start talking about a complex t, bone or a steak, it requires a combination of different cell types, an and marbling for us to be able to replicate that that aesthetic feel. But absolutely our goal is to make that as well. It will just be the next line of products as we start improving our technology and how to grow these cells together and
active together in a way that nature what packed them we absolutely have our sights are set on a a great steak. So so I just want to track through the reasons why people said no here, so I think we've touched the the safety issue sufficiently. There's the there is an additional concern, also by but now twenty four percent of the people said no, that cultured meat will be expensive. Can you say something about the the they likely a Khan Amir scale here and where this would be headed in terms of the cost to consumers, but also say something about the external costs of our current production of meat in the factory farming way, and you know how energy intensive is this process of of culture in me, of course? Yes, so up the cost of per sing. The naturally cultured made for talking about has plummeted over the last several years. We are not producing it for less than forty dollars a gram and we plan to reduce this to just a few cents per gram or the next
five years now, while there may be a small price premium, when we initially get out of the market, our goal is to reduce the cost enough that they are on par with conventional meats, and we believe this absolutely happen, because the current meat production techniques are inherently inefficient,
They use massive amounts of land as well as grain, and there is also the attendant environmental costs, but even without considering the environmental costs, it takes about twenty three calories of grain to make one calorie of beef and the process that we are modeling out now takes about three calories of energy input to make one calorie of beef. So we are hugely more efficient, but even if our estimates are off by two hundred and forty three million four hundred and fifty four thousand four hundred and seventy four we're still more efficient than production of beef and in terms of talking about the other things that go into consideration of the costs, keep in mind that for the current meat production industry, the government subsidies, the tax breaks, their favorable policies and other factors make the cost of conventional made artificially low and that cost
passed on to the consumers directly in a in a way of government subsidies and budget deficits, which I believe are just not sustainable because as the population increases by three billion in the next thirty five years, the demand for meat is doubling and there is no government, western government or eastern government that will be capable of continuing to subsidise at this massive level and we feel, like that's. A combination of all of these factors will tip the point towards our meat actually being cheaper than conventional meat. It does seem that it's that is inevitable, given how wasteful the quote natural processes and I mean if people doubt whether costs can come down sufficiently in this area, it's worth recalling that it used to cost. Three billion dollars to sequence, the human genome. That's now down to under three thousand dollars. You have a mic
in fold improvement in the cost here and that's over scarcely fifteen years. The final reason before we get to it being creepy that people declined, to which to cultured meat in our poll, was that their vegetarian or vegan already and see no reason to do so now. That obviously does not pose any concern from your point of view in terms of marketing a product, because this is really that these people are not in the market for meat of any kind. And it's it's just, non issue, but did you have anything to say about that? Because it's it's a I'm okay, I I understand that certain people have decided that you know they live lost their taste for meat. They see no reason, why they need to get their protein that way, but I think probably many many people, including myself, who are Terry and because of the the ethical issues, but haven't lost their taste for meat and and actually many probably
I worry that on some level, meat is the best source of protein at the end of the day and would be happy to switch to cultured meet at some point. Yeah you're, absolutely right! If you, if you became a vegetarian or vegan for ethical reasons, but still like the taste of meat. Then this is a product that would satisfy that craving for meat. But if you're, someone who enjoys plants and is completely happy with that, we would encourage frankly, because it's also and environmentally very sustainable and We've already had inquiries from a number of vegetarians and vegans asking us if we could consider this meat, vegan because when it's on the shelves, it will not be coming from slaughter of an animal, and it might be a good poll for you to follow up and see if, if the definition of a vegetarian or vegan would change,
why I think it would. For instance, I've heard from many vegans who call themselves bivalve vegans who eat oysters mussels and clams, because they they think that the the issue really is, you know, there's no plausible basis for consciousness there and therefore no bid basis for suffering and died. The reason why they're vegan in the first place is to mitigate animal suffering. So, let's get to this said the creep factor, because it honestly this is something I am sensitive to myself and it. Yet it is when I try to analyze, it's basis. It's very strange. The minute seems to be an intuition that eating meat from an animal that has been slaughtered is natural and understandable and something we've always done. And while I don't like the details and don't feel like seeing the suffering,
the blood and the guts and the filth myself? The details? There all we're always something that put me off so they're not attractive part of the process, but they are a natural and you know perennial part of the process and the intuition seems to be that if the man, He comes into being by passing. All of that there's something in the word that I think many people keep coming back to is creepy, that there's something something in on candy about it and I think people are are predisposed to be uncomfortable with it and now I I fully expect this discomfort will be banished the moment. We have a Oct that actually tastes good. That has been understood to be free of viruses and bacteria and antibiotics and
the contaminants and that didn't entail a vast machinery of misery and death in order to bring it into being. But there is this this knee jerk reaction, which is says. Oh, I don't think I want to eat that get it. What are your thoughts on that? Can you get underneath that it all yourself. I absolutely, I believe, will get underway at that, and I understand the the sentiments of what you're expressing, because up to this point in the history of our world, they're just test not being an alternative to what people have been doing for centuries and right now, people eat meat but their eyes squeezed shut because they don't want to think about the inefficiency of the filter, the cruelty, but once there is an alternative that is healthier that doesn't include the pathogens and everything else. We talked about that, doesn't harm the animals, people absolutely switch over and when they present it between two options- meat that is identical.
But one that comes from a filthy from farm and house or from a clean factory. We feel like people will absolutely- and it might take you know, years and decades for this to completely. We accepted by one hundred percent, but one of the very unique things we've noticed in all or surveys as well as from the reaction we've gotten, is the the adapter segment for any breakthrough technology, to have a big chance in the market only requires to be about five to seven percent on our earlier after segment, is just mind. Bending it's about forty percent of the people are saying will absolutely tried, will absolutely switch if it tastes identical to meet and we feel like that's a very encouraging sign for and, of course, there's going to be education. We have to get over this creep factor for the twenty five percent of the audience. You called, and it's going to take time to get there and we hope there will be thousands.
Other companies like ours, working globally. That would be doing this education effort and in fifty years I personally believe that the thought of slaughtering animals for me, we'll be laughable yeah. Well, I sure that intuition very strongly- and this one of those occasions where a technological breakthrough leads directly to an ethical one and they're, not many places where you see that. But when you do, it really becomes a at a certain point. It would be unthinkable to go backward and a you know, we're not there yet here, but it's very easy for see that once this is just a fait accompli and you have a choice and it's an economically sustainable choice and it's a and obviously healthy choice, and in that case it would be very difficult to to see. Someone argue
no. No, actually, I preferred the meat that requires all of this suffering and death and pollution and inefficiency it'll be like may seem like a no and on an allergy, but we're sort of on the cusp of of a a similar breakthrough was cell, driving cars here, there's even a stronger argument where it were attached to our cars. We get these statics of drug driving cars ourselves, it it did there, but this really is not a replacement for the fun of driving your car yourself. If and if, indeed, you find that fun. This is a change that will dictate a very different way of being in the world. So it's not the same kind of substitution. Your offering, but at a certain point, one self driving cars become obviously safe and obviously economical and not really safe, but reliably safer than human drivers, so
You know apes behind the wheel in the US, reliably kill thirty thousand people a year. If self driving car is cut that down by a factor of ten or one hundred, which is likely the case, then there will be no place to stay and argue to say no, no. Actually, I feel like taking my neighbors life in my hands every time I commute to work. I claim the right to kill some number of pedestrians as I love driving my car, you know this is again will be so some they'll be forced upon us by a breakthrough in the technology and to resist the technology. At a certain point, you'll seem like a a kind of cycle path. I think you're on the cusp of a similar breakthrough here absolutely, and you know we're we're actually delighted with the response you'd gotten in the last week and out in
probably the fastest food tech or food Youtube. Video to go viral was ours. In three days we had seven million plus views and it continues to grow at a rate of a million and a half every day, and we know we've touched a chord globally and I also want to put on a call to your audience that if there is someone, that's deeply dedicated in making a difference in this area, whether they have a scientific background or a business background or just in a strategic background, I would really invite them to chart to us, because that I think we want to do as a company is not make the connections we want to make early and then think about this. You know five years from now. I also would hope, that the meat industry sees that for them to continue to grow in a sustainable fashion. This would be technology they could embrace. Instead of fighting like
Traditional automotive industry did to the electric car more than my do to the self driving car, and we just hope that the conscious consumer that we're dealing with at this point is going to make this a reality, because they're going to demand it and the producers and the manufacturers will base their future, but it's based on the currency as consumers demands and and that's the hbrm, which is why strongly believe that this kind of transformation can happen in a matter of five one thousand and fifteen years yeah. Well, listen it it's inspiring work, you're doing and and here as as we close here to just tell people how they can get in touch with you, you have the Memphis meets dot com, your website right: yes, they could email founders at Memphis, Memphismates, dot, com and it comes to us directly and we have a team of people getting back. We might not be able to get back immediately, but we are getting back to
a single one of them and you're now on twitter? What is your twitter address? So the twitter at us for the company is Twitter, Slas, Memphis meats and my personal one. This trailer slash or mobility? U M a v, a l ETI great well, listen to him, but this has been an education and hopefully it's the start of really ubiquitous dialogue about how we can push. The ball into the end zone here, because I clearly this is some formulation of this- is where we need to get to for a variety of reasons, a only some of which are ethical, there's every other reason to do this too. So thank you for doing what you're doing. Thank you I'm delighted to be here. If you fine, podcast, valuable. There are many ways you can support it. You can review it Itunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to listen to it. You can share on social media. With your friends, you can
Talk about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly, and you can do this subscribing through my website at Samharris, DOT, org and there find subscriber only content which includes ask me anything episodes you also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming. Video of some of these events and you also get to hear the bonus questions from any of these interviews. All of these things and more you'll find on my web
Transcript generated on 2019-10-31.