Startups Developing Cultivated Meat As A Climate-Friendly Food : Short Wave The idea came to Uma Valeti while he was working on regrowing human tissue to help heart attack patients: If we can grow tissue from cells in a lab, why not use animal cells to grow meat?

Food production accounts for as much as a third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The idea behind cultivated meat is to help feed the world while dramatically reducing human contributions to global warming and avoiding killing animals. NPR Health Correspondent Allison Aubrey has been visiting production facilities and talking with both food and climate scientists to understand how far away lab-grown meat is from store shelves, and what a meal of cultivated chicken tastes like.

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A Taste Of Lab-Grown Meat

A Taste Of Lab-Grown Meat

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Cultivated Meat is an alternative to traditional meat derived from cells in a lab. In this photo, a chicken breast is prepared at Upside Foods. Brian L. Frank for NPR/Brian L. Frank for NPR hide caption

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Brian L. Frank for NPR/Brian L. Frank for NPR

Cultivated Meat is an alternative to traditional meat derived from cells in a lab. In this photo, a chicken breast is prepared at Upside Foods.

Brian L. Frank for NPR/Brian L. Frank for NPR

The idea came to Uma Valeti while he was working on regrowing human tissue to help heart attack patients: If we can grow tissue from cells in a lab, why not use animal cells to grow meat? Valeti founded a company called Upside Foods, which joins more than 80 other start-ups developing "cultivated meat."

Food production accounts for a massive share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions – as much as a third of all the planet-warming emissions. A great deal of that comes specifically from meat production, including methane emissions and intensive land use. The idea behind cultivated meat is to produce animal protein without needing the whole animal. In theory, such methods could help feed the world while dramatically reducing human contributions to global warming, as well as creating a way to produce meat without killing animals.

NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey has been visiting production facilities and talking with both food and climate scientists. She joined Short Wave's Aaron Scott to explain how far away lab-grown meat is from being on store shelves, and what a meal of freshly seared cultivated chicken tastes like.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on our show. Take our survey: npr.org/shortwavesurvey

This episode was produced by Devon Schwartz, edited by Gabriel Spitzer and fact-checked by Brit Hanson.