Meet the Aussie Company Engineering Exotic, Lab-Grown Meat

Published 11 September 2020


Would you eat kangaroo? Sydney-based food tech company Vow is betting you’d try it, provided the meat was grown in a lab without the use of animals. Vow’s experimental cultured foods push the limits of mock-meat, intensifying trends we describe in Alt-Meat Achieves Global Success.

Meet the Aussie Company Engineering Exotic, Lab-Grown Meat


Vow uses cellular agriculture to create cruelty-free, lab-grown versions of exotic meats, including kangaroo, yak, zebra and tortoise. Cellular agriculture involves growing animal cells on an external structure and feeding them with a substrate so they autonomously produce. To replicate atypical animals, Vow built a “cell library” of exotic animal species. According to Tim Noakesmith, co-founder and chief commercial officer, Vow aims to help people encounter new tastes and diversify their diets beyond the limited range of animals humans commonly consume.

With novelty as a key selling point, Vow plans to target fine-dining restaurants who want to challenge diners with new flavours. This high-end emphasis also reflects the product’s price point – lab-grown meat remains expensive. In 2019, it cost approximately €100 ($118) to produce a pound of meat in a lab, a price experts predict could fall to €10 ($10) by 2021 if production scale is sufficient (Reuters, 2019). Following an AU $25,000 ($18,300) investment from the New South Wales government, Vow aims to have its kangaroo meat ready for market by 2022. 

Vow’s ‘cell-ag’ meats could also provide a more sustainable alternative to the global wildlife trade, which has been criticised as a possible originator of Covid-19. Yet it also demonstrates a potential turning point in the mass appeal of animal-free diets, echoing trends we note in The Post-Vegan Opportunity. By side-stepping conventional animal farming, lab-grown meats could help build a less environmentally intensive food system, while letting consumers continue to eat animal products in limited quantities.