When people think of IKEA they think of two things: affordable build-it-yourself furniture and meatballs. Using their iconic food offering as a base, IKEA's Space10 Research Lab has created a series of "Tomorrow's Meatballs" to illustrate what the future of food could look like 20 years from now.

The Space10 team explains on its blog that the purpose of the meatball project is to show the impact of the world's eating habits on the cuisine of the future. The resulting menu of six non-meat balls focuses on "alternative ingredients, technological innovations, and uncharted gastronomic territories" to offset what they call an "unsustainable appetite for meat." Space10 notes the many negative effects of that appetite (destruction of forests, soil erosion, disappearing fresh water supplies, etc.), citing a UN report which estimates that food demand on Earth will increase 70 percent by the year 2050.

"We used the meatball's shape and size as a canvas for future foods scenarios, because we wanted to visualize complicated research in a simple, fun, and familiar way," Kaave Pour of Space10 explains. Creations like the Farmer's Ball, the Lean Green Algae Ball, the Crispy Bug Ball, and the 3D-Printed Ball incorporate non-traditional ingredients, including insects, beet leaves, grains, nuts, powdered foods, and lab-grown artificial meat as alternatives that are readily available—and better for the environment.

The Crispy Bug Ball

The Nutty Ball

The Artificial Meatball

The 3D Printed Ball

The Mighty Powder Ball

The Lean Green Algae Ball

The Wonderful Waste Ball

All images: IKEA Space10