Can This Cultivated Meat Startup Make Lion Meat a Thing?

Yilmaz Bora got the idea for his company, Primeval Foods, while watching an Eater video about Aska, a two-Michelin-starred Nordic restaurant in Brooklyn. In the video, chef Fredrik Berselius makes quenelles of caviar, inspects a live king crab, and forages ginkgo nuts. But the thing that caught Bora’s attention was the bird. “It was not a chicken, but a bird,” he said. Actually it was a quail, aged and cooked medium-rare, and served dead-bird-style, with the feet still attached. “The owner said he was serving hundreds of them each week,” says Bora. As a vegan, this was unappealing but amazing to him, and it made him realize food that emphasizes a raw connection to nature excites a lot of people. So he started a company making cultivated lion meat.

Okay, so there were a few steps in between, but Berselius leaving the feet attached to his quails clearly evokes a more rustic, caveman-like relationship to meat. A claw sticking out of the end of a leg reminds you you’re eating a dead animal. It either disgusts you or taps into a primal human instinct. Bora thought about the logical conclusion — if humans are excited by the visceral image of a quail claw, they’re probably even more excited by meats like lion, zebra, and giraffe, things that are both socially and legally taboo. What if there was a way to get meat-eaters to eat those things without actually harming animals?

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