If you were presented with a piece of meat that was ‘grown’ in a lab, would you eat it? It might sound unappealing, but after considering the effects it could have on the environment you might just change your mind…
I like to eat meat, but I’m pretty conservative about my tastes. There are some things I just won’t eat, like rabbit.
I will happily acknowledge the hypocrisy of this position. After all, if I’m happy to eat Shaun the Sheep, why do I baulk at Bambi or Peter Rabbit? I guess it’s just what I’m used to.
After all, in some parts of the world it’s perfectly normal to eat parts of animals we tend to throw away. Eyeballs, testicles, brains. Just the thought makes me shudder. But not enough to turn me off meat completely.
I also try to buy high welfare meat, dairy and eggs, from supermarkets I believe have more sustainable standards for livestock. I’ve had many discussions about this with friends who don’t eat meat, and I’m happy with where I stand on the meat issue.
Well I thought I was. Then I read about lab-grown meat. And to be honest, my first thought was “Ewwwww”!
Why is ‘lab-grown’ meat being developed?
In vitro meat – also known as cultured or fake meat – takes real meat cells and grows them in lab dishes. As the Guardian recently reported, the process is in its infancy, but it’s a concept that may well become reality.
Recent research from Oxford and Amsterdam Universities shows that lab-grown meat is more efficient and environmentally friendly than standard practices of raising and slaughtering animals.
This backs up evidence from the Royal Society in 2010, which said artificial meat could be necessary to feed an ever-growing demand without destroying the environment. Since 1961, demand for meat has grown massively, with countries like China showing the biggest growth, and large quantities of agricultural land goes on growing feed for livestock.
Is this the future of food?
So if the current situation is not sustainable in the long-term, what options do we have? Other than all becoming vegetarians, which could be healthier (but that’s another discussion).
We’re not going to be seeing any of the stuff on supermarket shelves tomorrow. At the moment the technology is still new. But it’s coming. And not everyone is repulsed by the idea.
Would you eat artificial meat? After all, it’s just protein, and if it tastes the same, why not? And if you’re vegetarian, would this mean there’s no longer an ethical problem of eating meat?