Is Test Tube Meat in Our Near Futures?
Whether you are a carnivore or not, we all can agree that the bulk of our meat production industry is unsustainable, inhumane and unhealthy. Factory farms are bad for the environment, the animals, and even the consumer. But, they prevail because they bring the cost of meat unsuitably low, thereby allowing us to eat more of it. But, at our current rate of consumption, the supply will be unable to keep up with the demand. This leaves us 2 options: greatly reduce our dependence on meat… or create it synthetically.
Thatʼs right — test tube meat may be more realistic than you thought. Two scientists, Corvan der Weele and Johannes Tramper, have an idyllic vision of the future: locally cultured meat sold at the village market or butcher shop while healthy, happy farm animals roam open ﬁelds without fear of slaughter. They recently released a paper dictating the plausibility of such a scenario, covering everything from expected societal response to viable manufacturing techniques. But it’s not just this pair; scientists all over the world are working to create palatable, cost-effective meats from animal stem cells. The idea is to have machines manufacture our meat so we can leave the animals alone. In the Netherlands, scientists have actually created a hamburger from a petri-dish. But donʼt expected to see it on your market shelf anytime soon. With no fat, the meat is hardly palatable and needs to be further adjusted. Not into synthetic meat? How about plant-based meat without a 10 inch list of extraneous ingredients… that actually tastes good? The company Beyond Meat is working to create soy and amaranth chicken strips that actually fooled the palate of one Mark Bittman. While they aren’t yet for sale, these strips are promising for pre-made meals like burritos and pastas. Check out his reaction on his New York Times Op-Ed.
While plant-based substitutes bear great promise, they cannot replace all meat products, like strip steaks. However, many, including myself, believe that the answer is not test-tube meat, but rather more sustainable farming and consumption practices. Instead of farming animals in large factories, embrace small, local farms, where animals are highly cared for and treated humanely. It supports the local economy, animal welfare, and your health. Also, because animals raised under high standards are often pricier (for good reason), theoretically the meat youʼll consume will be less in quantity (unless you get a pay raise and decide to spend it all on fresh meat), but of a far superior and healthful quality. Until then, I have my own personal philosophy that could drive down our meat over-consumption. If you couldnʼt bear to hunt for and kill the animal for yourself, then you should not eat its meat. How’s that for a Paleo diet?
How do you feel about the concept of test tube meat? Is it a good idea or could it have potential consequences?