Environmental impacts of cultured meat production

Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Jul 15;45(14):6117-23. doi: 10.1021/es200130u. Epub 2011 Jun 17.


Cultured meat (i.e., meat produced in vitro using tissue engineering techniques) is being developed as a potentially healthier and more efficient alternative to conventional meat. Life cycle assessment (LCA) research method was used for assessing environmental impacts of large-scale cultured meat production. Cyanobacteria hydrolysate was assumed to be used as the nutrient and energy source for muscle cell growth. The results showed that production of 1000 kg cultured meat requires 26-33 GJ energy, 367-521 m(3) water, 190-230 m(2) land, and emits 1900-2240 kg CO(2)-eq GHG emissions. In comparison to conventionally produced European meat, cultured meat involves approximately 7-45% lower energy use (only poultry has lower energy use), 78-96% lower GHG emissions, 99% lower land use, and 82-96% lower water use depending on the product compared. Despite high uncertainty, it is concluded that the overall environmental impacts of cultured meat production are substantially lower than those of conventionally produced meat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Conservation of Energy Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Environment*
  • Food Handling / standards*
  • Food Technology / trends*
  • Meat*
  • Protein Hydrolysates
  • Spain
  • Temperature
  • Thailand
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Water Supply / analysis


  • Protein Hydrolysates
  • Carbon Dioxide