Vat Grown beef? Why Not Vat Grown Lobster, Crab?

The possibility of mass growth of animal muscle tissue has been investigated, and i believe that it is feasible. So could we grow the edible parts of lobsters and crabs by the same techniques? Has anyone tried this? Another question, if feasible, could the resultant product be so good as to drive the wild caught lobster off the market?

Most products with “crab” in their name are already fake – they consist of shrimp or surimi with flavoring from boiled crab shells. I expect them to be replaced by lab-grown tissue once it becomes feasible.

I also believe there will always be a market for real lobsters and crabs, as there will be for “true” steak.

I agree - at least for the foreseeable future. I suppose at some point there might a social trend where instead of the “real thing” being seen as high-class and “more unique” and special, it instead becomes perceived as “filthy” or more likely to be diseased/cause food poisoning or the like. Doesn’t seem that likely to me, but I can’t predict social mores a century away.

There was a twist on the idea in Arthur C. Clarke’s story “The Food of the Gods”. Set in a future where artificially-grown meat is the norm and the idea of eating actual animal flesh is repulsive, the story follows the testimony of a food-corp executive to a Congressional committee about the questionable activities of a competitor. After delicately describing the queasy historical background of “meat”, he gets to the point with even more delicacy, spelling out the antiquated word


I don’t know that it’s feasible currently, but I do think it will eventually come to pass. It will take a while, though, especially if we expect it to be more than a spam-like protein in a can. Getting the right texture is not something you can achieve in an actual vat - you’ll have to grow actual muscles with connective tissues and exercise them.

As for why people always talk about beef, there are still a lot of beef and potatoes people out there. It’s just a much larger market. (Example: My family’s Christmas Eve tradition was always whole Dungeness crab with clam chowder. When I tried to introduce that to my wife’s family, only one of them wanted to eat both items, and about half didn’t want either. They do brisket. Their idea of seafood is pretty much limited to shrimp and fish sticks, though I did convert a few of them over to salmon at least.)

My first taste of crab was Dungeness crab we bought as they were coming off the boats in Sequim. As for the salmon, hopefully you did not introduce them to Frankenfish.

I think the reason people are working on growing beef is less about the larger total market and more that the beef market includes a lot more than steaks: There are hamburgers and spaghetti meat sauce and sloppy joes, and so on. So, even if you can’t yet make a perfectly-textured and flavored steak, you might be able to make a ground-beef replacement that would be acceptable with strong seasoning, and have a real market for it. Heck, people already have made ground-beef replacement out of soy protein, and it’s used a lot.

But lobsters are only high-end. I don’t believe there’s a big market for ground lobster. So you’re not going to sell vat-grown lobster until it gets much much closer to the texture and taste of the semi-wild version.

This. Right now Hormel chunky chili has a mix of beef & TVP with more TVP than beef parts. Your typical red-blooded Bud-swillin’ Hormel hound would be horrified to know he’s eatin’ veggie burgers.

But bury it deep enough as ground cattle parts and vat grown ground quasibeef will be a big hit. Large slabs with realistic texture? Not any time soon.

What is wrong with frankenfish?

I remember seeing a news piece about vat grown fish, several years ago.

Because you already can grow lobsters and crabs in vats?

If they are exposed to fire they go nuts and start attacking villagers.

Given that muscle mass needs exercise to have the same texture as wild caught crab the question would be if you can create a process that’s more efficient than the 4 billion years of evolution. Exercising the grown in vat crab muscle requires energy input .

That’s why you kill them before lighting the grill.

But all the animal rights activists tell me that livestock is grown crammed together in tiny little pens where they can’t exercise.

The tiny amount of movement you can do in a cramped pen is still more exercise than a chunk of lab grown meat gets… Eg none at all

This is more or less the theme of Asimov’s “Good Taste”.

Is there not an environmental incentive here as well–raising beef on the hoof is energy intensive and bad for the environment, and ideally vat meat will be less so? Whereas overfishing of lobster and crab, while bad, isn’t as bad for the planet as vast herds of beef cattle.

Raising billions of cattle on grains is energy intensive and bad for the environment.

Raising a few head of cattle on ample pasture is not - but would be expensive and not nearly meet the current demand.

Vat-growing beef may or may not be less expensive, or less energy intensive, than raising animals. We won’t know for sure until we actually do it.

Talking about cheap seafood…has anyone found out how to breed squid? That is just about the fastest growing sea animal around…should get the discoverer a Nobel prize.