milk from laboratory

Nowadays, more and more people not only pay attention to eating as balanced and healthy food as possible when it comes to their diet but also to where their food actually comes from. The number of vegetarians and vegans increases every year – no wonder when you keep hearing about terrible conditions in fattening houses and slaughterhouses. But in addition to meat and fish, dairy products are also increasingly being criticized. One of the reasons for this is that the idyllic image we have of cows with their calves on green pastures tends to be the exception to the rule. Because, as a rule, the dairy cows stand in cramped stalls, often never see daylight, and the calves, which they have very regularly after artificial insemination (which they have to have in order to stimulate milk production), are taken away from them early on and often processed into fillets soon afterward. For cows, very social animals, this is torture.

Milk is no longer on the menu for many people

While there are already many plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk in stores, most of them don’t taste exactly like milk. This is perfectly fine for many customers, but it probably prevents one or the other from becoming a fan of soy or oat drinks. Another point is the usually higher price. However, there could soon be a solution for both problems that makes everyone involved happy: milk from the laboratory.

What sounds strange at first only means that scientists use a process called precision fermentation to produce proteins from yeast that are completely identical to those in milk. The end result does not differ chemically from normal milk but does not involve animal suffering. And if necessary, the product could also be modified during production so that it does not contain lactose, to which many people react with intolerance.

Laboratory milk would be more environmentally friendly

That sounds like a dream of the future and an obscure project that idealistic researchers are pursuing in the back room of a university. On the contrary: the international group Unilever supports the project with a concrete plan. When the milk from the lab is ready for the market, it will be used to make Ben & Jerry’s popular ice cream. The brand has always valued ethically sourced ingredients and has been selling several vegan varieties for a while. But – and most vegans will probably agree – especially with vegan ice cream there is still room for improvement in terms of taste. This seems to be the case at Unilever as well.

There is talk of starting the commercial production of laboratory milk and thus the new, cruelty-free “Ben & Jerry’s” varieties in just over a year. And not only for animal welfare reasons, but the milk made from yeast proteins would also be a real breakthrough: According to the company Perfect Day, which is involved in the development of the new milk, the production would be “97% less greenhouse gas emissions, 99% less drinking water consumption and 60% less energy consumption much more environmentally and climate-friendly than “traditional milk”.

Source:   “ZME Science”


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