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Traditional meat production has been one of the lead environment stressors, as not only is the demand in meat production rising to a scary number, but the production is known to produce an incredible amount of greenhouse gases.

As the world struggles to cut emissions, some companies are doing their bit by showing how meat can be produced without livestock. And now an Australian company has made meatballs from the cells of an extinct woolly mammoth  to raise awareness of the process.

Cultured or cultured meat is the process of producing animal meat using stem cells. The technology first caught attention a decade ago when Dutch pharmacologist Mark Post introduced the first meat burger. Many companies are now focused on producing cultured meat, but Australian company Vow is getting creative. Although they produce standard meats like beef and chicken, they  also experiment with different flavours like kangaroo, quail, crocodile, and alpaca. 

Their woolly mammoth meatballs, which no one has tried before, were invented to start a conversation about how much meat we consume and where it comes from.

"We have a behavior change problem when it comes to meat consumption," says George Peppu, CEO of Vow. "The goal is to convert several billion meat eaters  from consuming [conventional] animal proteins to foods that can be produced in electrified systems." 

Vow believes this can help people make the transition to cultured meat by mixing and matching cells to create a nutritious and delicious option for consumers. Singapore has already approved the sale of cultured meat and chicken through Good Meat and they are currently available for purchase. Later this year, Vow will offer its Japanese quail to visitors in Singapore.

The United States is also poised to bring cultured meat  to market. In late 2022, the FDA also granted an approval that will open the door for lab-grown meat and seafood  to eventually hit store shelves in America. While  the public may be a bit hesitant about consuming lab-produced meat, environmental and food insecurity concerns make this technology more important than ever. "It's a  bit strange and new - it always is at first," says Professor Ernst Wolvetang of the Australian Institute of Bioengineering at the University of Queensland. Professor Wolvetang helped Wow create the mammoth muscle protein that gives meat its flavour. "But from an ecological and ethical perspective, I personally think [cultured meat] makes a lot of sense."

A woolly mammoth meatball donated to the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in the Netherlands may seem like a publicity stunt, but what counts for Vow is the use of an extinct animal. 
"We chose the woolly mammoth because it's a symbol of biodiversity loss and a symbol of climate change," says Vow co-founder Tim Knocksmith. 

Although there is talk of unusual meatballs, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a rethink in the population regarding the type of meat consumption.

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