Let's MEAT the daughter of the lab-grown meat inventor

Written by Mackenzie Dion

I recently had a planning session with Ira van Eelen, the Co-founder of KET, for the upcoming Alternative Protein Summit in Amsterdam. 

We talked through the event schedule and about what makes this event unique. Below, is an excerpt from our conversation that highlights some special features of the summit and more about Ira’s story!

You can read about the details of the event and get your tickets here.

One of the big “wows” of the event is the cultured meat machine, I thought I’d ask Ira to elaborate.

You just picked up the clean meat machine for the NEMO exhibition, which is very exciting! 

Can you tell me more about the machine and how it will be presented at the summit?

“Since about a year ago, I wanted to be really rebellious. I said to some people, I'm going to make clean meat myself in my kitchen.  People thought I was insane.

Sometimes you click with certain people. From the very first time I ever heard Illtud Dunford speak, I knew I wanted to work with him. I told him my ideas, and he said, “well, I think we could do that.”

And that's why I went to Bath a couple of days ago. I got a machine that could actually make cultured meat. My background is in design. I've worked in event designing and my brain is wired in a way to tell a story, the narrative of something. 

The idea is to have a starter machine, which is the clean meat machine I picked up in Bath, and then make an animation to tell stories about it. People will see the machine pumping media through a small bioreactor. So, I came up with the idea to combine the machine and the story of its potential as a factory, a farm meat brewery, or actually, in the further future, a meat machine that I can put on my countertop. I'm super excited about it. A lot of people have been very helpful, and I've been inspired by many people. “

Can attendees see something like this anywhere else? 

“ It is totally unique. This has never been done. It is the first ever time this machine will be visible to the public. It is something that you would expect to be in a lab. “

What are you most excited about for the summit? 

“ Being able to do the Alternative Protein Show in Amsterdam is almost too good to be true. What am I excited about most? Well, the fact that it's going to happen and that you guys are also excited about it. That's moving to me.

There's a continuum. I called it building a cathedral. My father filed the first lab-grown meat patents, and this cause was his passion. My father never got to eat cultured meat, and there's now cultured meat in NEMO. I was afraid this idea would not be recognized. It's now going to happen. In 2010, NEMO organized the first ever pure meat conference. So, in a way NEMO has been what we call the red thread, through the whole story of my father. 

My father would be super excited about plant-based meat. It's not a belief system that we actually have to make cultured meat. It's a belief system that we can make meat without cruelty, without harm, and without destruction. It is so exciting to me.

You will be able to get a lot of information, and you will be catered to in very different ways.  Most people get really tired after three days of a conference, and I want you to go out of this conference totally invigorated. “


Olivia Fox