The meat plant is an artificially engineered variety of vegetation which, when fully grown, produces fruit that have the flavor, texture, structure, and nutritional qualities of animal flesh.
The meat plant was developed specifically for the Lucidus mission so that future Illuminatians would have a source of animal protein without the need to devote undue resources to animal husbandry. It was understood that it would be inefficient to set aside space aboard the three Lucidus ships merely for the purpose of raising a sustainable population of a variety of animals to slaughter for human consumption. It just so happened that Lucidus designers and original inhabitants also felt it unseemly to eat real sentient beings and had an aversion to the messy spilling of blood that would be necessary to harvest meat from actual animals.
The meat plant was introduced to Illuminatia when humans discovered the planet, but only after a period of study to ensure the meat plant would not harm the Illuminatian ecosystem. The many varieties of meat plant now thrive and occupy a visible part of Illuminatia's landscape.
Meat plants come in several varieties distinguished primarily by the type of animal meat the plant's fruit most resemble. These include red meat plants, white meat plants, poultry plans, fish plants, crustacean plants, and reptilian plants.
Red and white meat plants often grow as a shrubbery which produces fruit that varies across the different portions of the plant's anatomy. Different portions of a shrub will produce different cuts of meat. For instance, a red meat shrub can produce a brisket fruit, sirloin fruit, tenderloin fruit, or a rib-eye fruit, among others.
Meat plants were developed by incorporating basic genetic material from various animals and introducing those genes into an assortment of plants, including flowers, shrubs, and trees. Engineers were careful to incorporate genetic material from animals in such a way as that the resultant plant would never develop a sense of self-awareness or ability the to think or feel. Generally, the meat plants that were developed lacked a highly-developed central nervous system. Special care was taken to ensure meat plants did not become carnivorous.
Locomotive meat plants
- See article: Locomotive meat plant
One variety of meat plant, called the locomotive meat plant, is able to detach from its root system and exercise primitive locomotive behaviors, such as crawling, hopping, or jumping. These locomotive meat plants exercise their motion-producing extremities and limbs in a way that develops muscle in those limbs, producing additional muscular material that is desirable for harvesting.
Locomotive meat plants can survive the harvesting of multiple limbs, as the limbs are regenerated. Since fruit-producing meat plants also naturally bear fruit which must be removed and is naturally replenished by the plant in successive growing seasons, no meat plant actually need be killed to be harvested for meat tissue.
A notable variety of locomotive meat plant is the turducken plant, which is the only meat plant native to Illuminatia. The turducken plant has the distinction of developing in the wild and not having been engineered by humans for the Lucidus mission.