10 Lab-Made Meats, Cheeses And Other Odd Startup Foods

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10 Lab-Made Meats, Cheeses And Other Odd Startup Foods

Lab-grown hamburgers and Jarlsburg in a test tube? Several Silicon Valley scientists are producing edibles of the truly bizarre inside their labs or mixing up animal substitutes based on some interesting ingredients. Naturally (or not so much) we’re here to take you on a tour of some of this fascinating fare.



Got milk? Muufri wants to provide the white stuff to vegans by creating it in a lab instead of inside a cow.

The startup uses genetically modified yeast to produce the same biologically identical liquid as that found shooting from the udders of ruminant beasts.

Muufri believes brewing the stuff using microorganisms to be a healthier and more humane alternative to feed a growing population of humans throughout the world.


Impossible Foods

Any ex-vegan will tell you nothing is better than the real thing. Those who’ve tried seitan or “wheat meat” – a common meat substitute made for vegetarians -might agree. But the folks at Impossible Foods swear their product made with plant protein looks, tastes and chews the same or better than the flesh of dead animals.


Clara Foods

Add in one part yeast, mix in some DNA, give it a few generations and you’ve got egg whites without the chickens. That’s the idea around Clara Foods. The startup launched this year to grow egg whites in a lab. It already has $1.7 million in funding and is working on a partnership with a couple pasta companies.


Beyond Meat

If it looks like chicken and tastes like chicken, it might be Beyond Meat fake chicken.

Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Ev Williams are investors in this startup that aims to provide bites that taste just like the stuff that goes into tacos and burgers without meat lover’s mouths being able to tell the difference.

Can it fool the meat-loving masses? That depends on who you ask.


Hampton Creek

What started as an idea to make planet-friendly foods cheaper for the non-Whole Foods shopping normals became a reality for Hampton Creek in a very short time.

This plant protein-based food startup distributes its most well-known product “Just Mayo” to Costco, Dollar Tree, several major grocery store chains throughout the U.S. and now one of the largest grocery stores in China. You can also find it in Whole Foods.

Hampton Creek ships mayonnaise and eggless cookie dough for now. The startup is working on perfecting pasta and plant-based scrambled “eggs,” too.

Recently, Hampton Creek has been under scrutiny due to slippery ethics, employee dissatisfaction, and has been accused of crafting an image, rather than a workplace.



Depending on who you ask – the powdered drink mix known as Soylent is either “tolerable” or “totally gross.” The name alone suggests a cult classic reference to feeding dead humans to the population. However, the actual drink is comprised of oats and whey protein and some other nutritional ingredients and is meant to be used as a food substitute for the busy modern worker who wants the nourishment of food, but not the bother of dealing with it. Soylent is made in a warehouse in Oakland and is often cited as one of the more bizarre food startups steeped in Silicon Valley culture.



“Teaming up with natural microorganisms to revolutionize coffee,” the Kickstarter says. Afineur is growing the rich flavors of coffee from yeast cultures and it just launched a crowdfunding campaign to get it’s cultured coffee off the ground (er grind).



Nootropics are all the rage for brain hackers – a specific subset of the technologically-inclined and interested in improving cognitive function. truBrain is a product that feeds this subset with drinks and pills containing ingredients such as uridine, oxiracetam and L-theanine.


Miyokos Kitchen

Cheese-making is a scientific process that involves taking milk curd and then adding the right bacterial cultures to get the flavor and consistency desired. But not everyone can eat cheese and some dietary restrictions prohibit it.

Enter Miyokos‘ “cultured nut product.” The startup can’t call what it makes cheese in California because that requires it to come from a cow or other dairy producing animal, but Miyokos whips up what is supposed to be pretty much the same thing through the same process, using nuts and bacterial cultures instead.


Modern Meadow

Backed by Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs, Modern Meadow‘s main focus is on leather. But the startup’s origins are in growing meat cell cultures.

Making a burger without the cow has been quite the challenge for many scientists who’ve tried before, but Modern Meadow has successfully produced meat cells in a lab and continues to grow its products using mammalian cells.

*image not of Modern Meadow meat cells.