Here’s what a Chinese takeout menu would look like if the meat was grown in labs

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For food technologists looking to use cellular agriculture as a way of eliminating the need for factory-farmed meat, it’s a point of amusement, but also a dream of the near future. After all, it might not be long before cell-cultured meats start to appear on real menus.

Alpha Food Labs created a Chinese takeout menu of the future.
Alpha Food Labs created a Chinese takeout menu of the future.
Image: Photo by Chase Purdy

This particular Chinese takeout menu—which is pure fantasy—was dreamed up by Alpha Food Labs, a group that, among other things, works on conceptualizing types of food products that might exist in the future. It was on display Oct. 11-12 at a conference in New York hosted by New Harvest, a nonprofit that supports research efforts into developing cell-cultured meat, sometimes called “clean meat,” other times referred to as lab-grown meat.

Alpha’s mock menu pulls out all the stops. It includes, among other features:

  • bitcoin as a payment method
  • the promise of fast delivery by drone, under 30 minutes within a 50-mile radius
  • a fake US Department of Agriculture label
  • options that utilize “heritage cultured meat”
  • cultured meat options for lunch and dinner that are all cheaper than most dishes made with conventional meat

The back of the menu features a short profile of “Phillip Woo,” the “master meat maker” posing next to the restaurant’s in-house bioreactor. It also includes this line, which explains why some of the meat on the menu is still sourced from animals:

For our non-cultured meat we buy from many local farms who have wonderful and sustainable growing practices. We do not buy any meat from the antiquated and dirty factory farms that were common at the start of the century. There is simply no need to buy that old-fashioned meat, because we can produce all that we need in our bioreactor, but some of our older customers still like the meat from conventional farms for nostalgia reasons.

The menu can be examined more closely on the website that Alpha Food Labs created just for it.

Read more here: The idea for lab-grown meat was born in a prisoner-of-war camp