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Are You Hungry For Lab-Grown Meat?

Are You Hungry For Lab-Grown Meat?

In the 1986 remake of the science fiction classic The Fly, an early scene shows the scientist, Seth Brundle, tinkering with his teleportation machine and using a cut of steak as the subject of his experiment. He teleports the steak from one pod to another, fries it up and serves it to his girlfriend and asks if it accurately approximates the real thing. With disgust, she spits it out, basically says it tastes artificial, and inspires the scientist to keep trying. He does, and by the end of the film he has figured out the steak problem, but he is also a pathetic mutant rotting from within.

I am reminded of this particular scene whenever I see a discussion about in-vitro meat – meat scientifically cultured in a lab and not directly taken from a slaughtered animal. Researchers are successfully doing this (at great expense) by actually growing meat that has its origins from stem cells removed directly from live cows. The idea of scientifically creating meat (and we are not talking about the various meat substitutes out there) has many environmental, animal welfare, and scientific proponents and has been floating around for several years. For instance, A 2011 study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, revealed that full-scale production of cultured meat could greatly reduce water, land and energy use, and emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases, compared with conventional raising and slaughtering of cattle or other livestock. And many animal rights advocates, as well as some vegetarians, applaud the idea as it has the long-term potential to derail the current system of industrialized meat production as well as animal slaughter. But considering the costs associated with in-vitro meat (around $325,000 for an experimental burger, according to The New York Times) and the amount of tinkering needed to make it affordable and palatable to the public, we are likely many generations away from a steady stream of accessible in-vitro meat. But the possible benefits may warrant further investigation, as there exists potential to have a pathogen-free meat supply that was created without harming billions of animals each year. You could probably see the appeal; however, whether or not you want to eat such meat is another issue entirely.

What do you make of in-vitro meat? Is it a way of employing science to force us to be more humane and responsible citizens of the planet, or a potential disaster in the making? Are there any vegans or vegetarians out there who would ever consider eating such a product, providing it actually tasted good?

Related:
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Horsemeat is Everywhere, Including IKEA

Read more: Animal Rights, Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Environment, Following Food, Food, Health, Nature, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

166 comments

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9:00AM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

10:50PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

The food corporations have lied to us so much about the ingredients of the food we now eat that I would not exactly embrace this in-vitro meat. Who says it's safe?? The food makers. Maybe after it's been around for a few hundred years and we know all the side effects, then it might be okay to try. Meanwhile, I will certainly become a vegetarian - even give up my pork.

10:38PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Nah :-)

9:28AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

Something about meat being raised in a lab alarms me. I cannot explain why. I would be a vegetarian, but I become so ill the two times that I tried that I almost had to go the hospital. I was taking vitamins and everything. My mother said that I have to eat me. I always ensure that the meat is from a humanely raised animal. I also thank the animal every time. My family finds it strange, but I think it is the least that I can do.

11:12AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

What next??

10:31AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

I like the idea though I would never eat it because the sight or thought of any flesh is repulsive to me. I am vegan and will be for life. Meat eaters should embrace this idea and for those who think this in unnatural, so is humans eating animals. If you're going to continue to eat meat, then at the very least stop the suffering of animals.

11:25AM PDT on Jun 2, 2013

My hubby and I have talked about this subject. He still eats meat, not much anymore but some. I haven't eaten meat in 17 years. He likes the idea because of reducing animal suffering. I like the idea too for that reason. But even if the meat was 100% cruelty free, I still don't think I would ever eat it. The idea of eating flesh in any form just makes me want to barf. But it is interesting.

10:00AM PDT on Jun 2, 2013

better than killing animals, i'm open to the idea

8:12PM PDT on May 29, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

2:32AM PDT on May 29, 2013

Thanks. Vegan here.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

I too love onions and I cook with them...thanks for the ideas

Very informative !

Good reminders, thanks.

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