With the world’s population expected to reach nine billion people by 2050, it’s becoming impossible to produce and to consume the same quantities of meat like we do today. Climate change, energy use, animal diseases and global food shortages are just some of the problems we face, not to mention the issue of animal welfare on factory farms.

With this in mind, Next Nature Network and Submarine Channel present Bistro In Vitro, an online interactive documentary, directed by Koert van Mensvoort. A design fiction project about the future of meat, with a chic virtual restaurant as its main platform; what if such a restaurant would exist tomorrow? How would it look like and what would be on the menu? On the restaurant website you will find photos, texts and videos of future culinary creations along with video interviews with visionary scientists, experts, renowned chefs and critics. Bistro In Vitro aims to reflect on the ethics, aesthetics and prospects of lab-grown meat. Bistro in Vitro makes people think and wants to instigate a discussion on a possible new food culture.

Naturally, the societal relevance of in-vitro meat plays an important part in its acceptance. If you ask people on the street if they would eat In Vitro meat when it hits their local supermarket, the answer would be mostly negative. In the minds of the consumer, in-vitro meat is considered as an inferior product compared to “real” meat, because it is artificial and technological. Oddly enough, most critics consume completely abstracted meat products, such as perfectly square cubes of chicken meat, canned ham, the Dutch mini croquette and sandwich meat with faces drawn on it.

In 2013 the world’s first lab grown burger was cooked. And some researchers expect that in-vitro meat could provide a sustainable and animal-friendly alternative to conventional meat. Nevertheless, many people still find it an unattractive notion to eat meat that was grown in a lab. Before we can decide whether we will ever be willing to consume in-vitro meat, we must first explore the new food culture it may bring us.

The project

On Bistro In Vitro you can navigate through the online science fiction documentary. Presented as a real restaurant, you can choose your own menu (starter, main course and desert), share the menu of your choice on social media, listen to visionary scientists, experts, international renowned chefs and critics or browse through several essays and interesting background information on in-vitro meat.

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“An accessible introduction in the marvellous and unlimited world of lab-grown meat and it’s future” – Munchies, Vice

“Bistro In Vitro is a virtual playground to ponder the future of meat” – NPR The Salt

“Although it looks a bit futuristic, the process could go way faster than we could imagine” – Bright Magazine

“Its a form of online theater, but a very important one: the future of meat” – Dutch Newspaper Trouw

“These concept dishes using lab-grown meat look kind of gross, but it’s a fascinating way of looking to the future.” – CNET Tomorrow Daily

“It’s an interesting experiment, and one that touches on an important question with lab-grown meat: whether or not people will be willing to make the trade, even if the science comes together.” – Gizmodo

“I made a reservation for my seat and tried to find out more.” — Pittsburg Post Gazette

“And that’s when the fun begins: what is the meaning of being a vegetarian now?” — Motherboard Vice