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Israel PM becomes first head of state to taste cultivated meat

Israeli PM tastes cultivated meat
Israel’s Prime Minister becomes the first head of state to taste cultivated meat.

Cultivated meat – laboratory-produced from animal cells without slaughtering them – is sparking something akin to a ‘space race’ as the burgeoning alternative meat market takes off in countries as diverse as Singapore, Australia – and Israel.

Positioning the nation at the forefront of a global alternative protein ecosystem, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Aleph Farms, a cultivated meat company and tried out its steak, becoming the first head of state to do so.

This event marks yet another milestone for the wider alternative protein industry. After Singapore made headlines last week, announcing the world’s first regulatory approval for the commercial sale of cultured chicken, Israel is taking its strides to develop a welcoming ecosystem for alternative protein innovation.

During the global space race to sustainably produce and supply high-quality meat and secure a stable food channel to the growing population, this move is set to place alternative protein as a key lever of growth for Israel.

Prior to the tasting meat, the PM, accompanied by the government’s animal rights advisor Tal Gilboa, toured the facilities, receiving an overview on the production process and about the company’s distinct sustainability vision.

Aleph Farms develops its cell-based meat directly from cow cells under controlled conditions. It uses a fraction of the resources required for raising real animal meat without antibiotics. It is still made from real animals, without harming them in the process.

“As for whether it will satisfy ‘vegans’, there’s quite a bit of contention there, as ‘vegans’ typically don’t eat meat for the animals,” says Australia-based Allen Zelden, founder of Intrinity Global and an expert on plant-based meat alternatives.

“But it will certainly compete across the alternative protein category initially, but with time it should certainly disrupt all categories relating to conventional meat.”

During his visit, Netanyahu tasted Aleph’s cultivated steak along with The Good Food Institute Israel’s MD Nir Goldstein. 

“It’s delicious and guilt-free, I can’t taste the difference,” the PM said after his taste test. “I have directed the state secretary Tzahi Braverman to appoint a body to serve these industries to connect and oversee all the stakeholders operating in this field. Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.” 

Covid-19 and climate change have served to point out the sensitive nature of food systems and highlighted the urgency for establishing sustainable and resilient food systems. Like many other countries, Israel is facing food-security challenges, with 85 per cent of locally consumed beef imported, rather than locally produced.

In a move to propel food innovation, the Israeli Innovation Authority established the FoodTech incubators ‘The Kitchen Hub’ and ‘Fresh Start’. Aleph Farms was founded and nurtured by The Kitchen Hub incubator of the Strauss Group, in collaboration with Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Biomedical Engineering faculty of the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

“The Israeli government has turned the country into a nerve centre for plant-based and cultivated meat innovation,” enthuses Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute. “Israel is creating a welcoming ecosystem for alternative protein innovation, and the Prime Minister being the first head of state to eat cultivated meat exemplifies this support and underlines the nation’s commitment to the future of meat.”

All this is demonstrating that the cultivated meat movement is transforming from being a long-term vision to a realised practical solution to one of the world’s most pressing challenges of our times.

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