My doctor had been warning me to cut down on red meat, and I had also moved to a rural Japanese farming village populated by farmers growing a wide variety of veggies.

After a while, the euphoria wore off and the culinary limitations of vegan food, especially when traveling, became challenging.

Five years later, the great Tohoku earthquake of 2011 hit Japan, dumping a pile of radioactive cesium-137 on top of our organic garden and shattering the wonderful organic loop we had created.

Ten years after I proclaimed myself vegan, I met Isha Datar1, the executive director of New Harvest, an organization devoted to advancing the science of what she calls “cellular agriculture.” Isha is trying to figure out how to grow any agricultural product—milk, eggs, flavors, fragrances, fish, fruit—from cells instead of animals.

Civilians often clump the alternative meat companies and labs together in some kind of big meatless meatball, but, just like different kinds of self-driving car systems, they’re quite distinct.

As a vegan, I ate a lot of processed plant-based proteins like tofu that feel fleshy and taste savory.

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