Cultured meat grown in a lab seems to tick all the boxes for those who still want to eat meat, but feel uncomfortable about the impact of the meat industry on the planet.
Science is forcing vegans and vegetarians who demand others join them to think again. With the developments in laboratory-cultured meat, vegetarians and vegans need to ask themselves: is it still about animal welfare or is it about stopping people eating meat?
Cultured meat, produced in bioreactors from muscle cells taken from live animals, has been approved for the first time by a regulatory authority. “Chicken bites” by San Francisco startup Eat Just have been approved for sale by the Singapore Food Agency. It’s a landmark moment that could lead to a revolution in “kind/clean” meat, significantly cutting down industrial livestock production, potentially doing away with it altogether.
It could also prove vastly more environmentally friendly, with 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions and 99% lower land use, while avoiding bacterial contamination from animal waste and industrial hormone/antibiotic overdosing. Now, various companies, including major meat producers, are developing lab meat, acquiring global regulation and convincing the public.
This is mind-blowing. Just think: the possibility of no more factory farming or abattoirs. It’s early days and major concerns need addressing: expense, quality, transparency of methodology and production, worldwide regulation, soothing of consumer anxiety about safety and more. But wouldn’t we rather address such issues? As a vegetarian, I wouldn’t eat lab meat, but I love the thought of others being able to consume safe, cruelty-free meat with a clean conscience. If animals aren’t suffering, if the environment benefits, there’s no issue… right?
Some disagree, arguing that lab meat perpetuates fixation with meat consumption and that the focus should be on plant-based diets. They’re also concerned about meat producers wanting in, which makes no sense. If proper regulations are in place, surely it’s a huge plus for meat producers to be involved? The point, surely, is to stop suffering and destruction, not to stop profits.
Perhaps at least some of the opposition to lab-grown meat is rooted in identity, an “ethical” need verging on a demand for people to join them in finding consuming meat abhorrent, and perhaps that everyone should aim to be vegan, or at least vegetarian. Except it’s never going to happen. While there’s been a surge of interest in meat-free products, many people still want to eat meat. And, frankly, if it’s cruelty-free and environmentally friendly, why shouldn’t they?
Maybe it’s time to check priorities. Is this still about animal welfare and the environment or has it become about control-freakery over what people eat? Has something hardline and dictatorial set in?
The irony is that it’s these very “ethical” types who almost singlehandedly drove the push for viable mass-market, cruelty-free options. This is effectively what they wanted… and they accomplished it!
So, of course, still ask questions, but also rejoice, co-operate, in what could become a global gamechanger. Come on, vegans, take the win.
Original source: https://www.theguardian.com