If the last thing you want in your milk is milk, your fake-food desires are about to be met. Scientists at Muufri are developing milk made without animal proteins—and without animals at all. This isn’t a nut milk, like almond or cashew, that you’ve seen in the grocery store or made in your kitchen. It’s vegan milk that tastes just like milk with the consistency of milk, made with proteins and fatty acids derived from laboratory work.
I don’t want to tell you what to drink, but I am an advocate for food made by farmers, not by scientists. I wanted to blog about Muufri because a product like this addresses so many ag and food issues all at once:
1. Food Options
At least one of Muufri’s founders is a vegan, according to his bio. Maybe vegans miss drinking milk, so this could be a nice option for them. Muufri also claims it can create milk without lactose, a milk sugar that about 75 percent of the world’s population has some trouble digesting. Another of Muufri’s founders is the executive director of New Harvest, a nonprofit for advancing meat and milk production in cell culture, rather than on the farm. New Harvest is also behind a plant-based “burger” that leaves “plant blood” on the plate and the vegan, ahi tuna-like Tomato Sushi. (Read “What is a Tomato Fish?” on Tomato Sushi’s FAQs page for a chuckle.)
2. Animal Agriculture
The Muufri website points out that animal agriculture presents problems for animals and the environment. I’m not going to argue with that. Yet I am still going to reach—in moderation—for the sustainably managed, locally produced meat, eggs and dairy over those products made in the lab. Call me crazy. I’ll side with gardener, author and nutrition professor Joan Dye Gussaw when she said, “As for butter versus margarine, I trust the cows more than chemists.”
Muufri posted this photo on Instagram, and it made me shudder a little.
This photo, on the other hand, I can get behind.
3. Pasteurized vs. Raw Milk
Another point made on the Muufri website is that there is no bacteria in their milk-like beverage. Made in a sterile environment, they don’t have to worry about the E. coli, listeria (which just made news with a terrible listeriosis outbreak) and other bad stuff. This is the major argument against the legalization raw milk, and Muufri seems to have it under control.
I really struggle to get behind producing food in a lab when there are sustainable, humane food-production options on the farm. There is a lot of positive buzz about Muufri among vegan and animal-welfare groups, though, so they must be doing something right.
We don’t have to get too excited/upset about Muufri yet, as the company hasn’t announced a product-release date. When it is released, am I going to try it? You bet. Am I going to like it? Like a kid subconsciously programmed to not like broccoli because it’s green, nope. Or maybe I will like it, but I’m not going to like drinking it.