Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly no stranger when it comes to sustainability. In fact, when you think of planet-saving celebs, he might even be the first one to come to mind. Known for his conservation and humanitarian work, the actor has even produced films and spoken out publicly about the environmental crisis. But DiCaprio is also putting his money where his mouth is and, according to VegNews, he has invested in cell-based meat companies Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat.
Cell-based meat – what is it?
Leonardo DiCaprio is backing it, but what exactly is cell-based meat?
It’s essentially a way to replace “traditionally raised meat with more environmentally friendly cell-based alternatives”. This will allow consumers to keep eating meat, without compromising on nutritional value or severe environmental damage. Though it may not sound that appetizing, DiCaprio certainly isn’t the only one backing it.
In fact, analysts are all for it. They project that it’s likely to be the next big step in sustainable eating. This is because of just how much of an impact it could have. A study conducted by independent research consultant CE Delft found that the production of cell-based beef could “reduce climate impact by 92 percent, air pollution by 93 percent, use 95 percent less land, and 78 percent less water” compared with traditional beef farming.
What are the benefits of cell-based meats?
Making changes to cell-based meat could make all the difference in the fight against climate change. But what other benefits could cell-based meats offer? Freeing up the land currently used for farming livestock could potentially allow for the re-wilding of habitats. This would mean naturally reducing emissions and, of course, would reduce the need for deforestation.
This is often a result of farmers needing more land to rear livestock. It would also likely mean that there would be more meat availability, meaning more food for us. It could also have major benefits when it comes to our health. Meat that is produced in a sterile environment would greatly reduce the risk of “pathogens, contaminants, and foodborne illnesses”. What’s more, meat produced in this environment also eliminates the use of antibiotics and that’s always a win.
Cell-based meats are the way forward
Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms are his latest in a long line of sustainable food investments, and for good reason.
Mosa Meat is currently working on a plant-based alternative for cell culturing and development. Previously, fetal bovine serum (which rather unappetizingly comes from the blood of a cow fetus) was used.
This was of course both inhumane and very costly. Thus, Mosa Meat is looking at ways to eliminate this need for fetal bovine serum and wants to “use a growth medium that is completely animal-free” before it looks for regulatory approval. The company is currently aiming to have the product on shelves by the end of 2022.
His other investment, Aleph Farms, on the other hand, is looking to diversify and improve its product offering. Earlier in 2021, they launched a “ribeye steak featuring all of the structures common to the ribeye cut, including muscle, fat, and a vascular-like system”. The company is in the process of “transferring its first commercial prototype to its first pilot production plant” and is looking at a launch date of 2022.
He’s a fan of vegan companies
Previously, DiCaprio has invested in what are now big names in the vegan food industry. Namely, Beyond Meat, which specializes in vegan meat alternatives, and Califia Farms which is a plant-based milk manufacturer.
Beyond Meat has since won awards for its “plant-based mock meat products” and it’s perhaps best aligned with DiCaprio’s environmental goals. DiCaprio is looking for a “sustainable means of feeding our global population”.
And of course, Beyond Meat fits that bill to a tee. The company describes its mission as “shifting from animal to plant-based meat. We are creating one savory solution that solves four growing issues attributed to livestock production: human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources and animal welfare”.
DiCaprio has also backed snack food company Hippeas and has even helped a vegan clothing line get off the ground. The clothing line in question was launched in partnership with Jane Goodall by the LDF and aimed to support the conservation of apes. The collection is not only organic, but it also includes fleece hoodies made out of recycled materials.