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Flowering meat that unfolds when plopped into hot broth, beef “yarn” that can be knitted directly onto your plate and fried nuggets made from the extinct dodo bird are just a few of the menu options at the Bistro In Vitro.

But don’t expect to leave this place with a full belly. As the project’s director, Dutch artist Koert van Mensvoort, tells The Salt, “It’s a virtual restaurant so we strictly serve food for thought.”

The central issue van Mensvoort wants to get diners chewing on is how to reconcile eating meat in an age when it’s near impossible to ignore the environmental and animal welfare consequences of its production. It’s time, he says, to think hard about a technology that may offer us some exciting new options: in vitro meat.

Bistro In Vitro: A Virtual Playground To Ponder The Future Of Meat

Photo: Submarine Channel/Next Nature Network/Bistro In Vitro

As I have several friends who are vegetarians, pescatarians, or vegans, I’ve often thought about why I continue to reconcile eating meat, when nowadays we have so many problems tied the production of it. This is really something we should all be thinking about and aware of, even if we continue to eat meat.

Because even if an awareness of it doesn’t affect one’s “freedom” to choose, it does affect what one chooses to do about the issue in other ways. For example, we might choose to start buying free-range chickens, or advocate for chickens in large industrial farms by protesting, writing letters, or even start something who’s end goal is to change the management or industrial practices of a company.

My reasoning in not being a vegetarian or vegan is that I rarely eat just meat at any one time, it’s always mixed in (like many Chinese dishes) with vegetables or other ingredients. I also feel like there’s something missing in the food once you start thinking about less fat, less sugar, less preservatives or additives, no meat, no fish, etc etc.

That said, in being aware of what I eat, how it’s prepared, and having a the right mindset/food spirituality (think of the Native Americans vs. today’s Americans – would we call out those in the past for not thinking about all the implications of eating meat or fish?), I’m doing my part.

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