Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Vitro Meat

For a few months now, I've been reading about in vitro meat that the Dutch have been brewing in labs from a small, fleshy sample of a pig. They say it may be in grocery stores as soon as 2014. PETA's been throwing cash at them in support, and I'm trying to decide if I support it myself. I'm working out the implications of in vitro meat in my mind and I can't really see anything wrong with it. Personally, I don't think I'll ever eat meat again. This meat is supposed to be healthier, greener, and cruelty-free [[all the major reasons to go vegan]], but I don't think I could stomach it. I guess the only issues I have with in vitro meat are in my imagination. What if it proves to be unhealthy? More cancerous than meat already is? And since I've been playing Left 4 Dead 2 a lot-- what if it's the start of the zombie apocalypse and we run around like mad cows gnawing our faces off?? It's a stretch, but what if...?

This is a picture of lab grown meat from TreeHugger

Then, I come to the question of eggs and milk. I haven't heard any word about growing dairy and eggs, but I start to wonder-- could I eat that? Could I go out and get pasta without worrying if they use butter or oil? Probably. I may not cook with it anymore, since I've harnessed this passion for MacGyver vegan cooking, but it'd sure be nice to eat out and not have to ask a thousand questions.

Anyway, I'm curious about what you guys think. Would you eat it? Is it technically "vegan" to you? Any zombie apocalypse thoughts?


deraj1013 said...

I've always thought that test tube meat is still meat. For those who eschew meat for reasons of animal rights, this might be a novel solution. However, it seems to me that in order to create test tube meat, an animal had to be slaughtered in the first place as part of a starter culture. So even if it is grown in a lab, it isn't completely free of guilt.

Also, proponents of animal rights also won't be changing the temperature of the room by getting people turned on to laboratory beef. Ultimately, the goal would be to get people to consume less (or no) meat, and test tube muscle tissue does little to ween people from the behavior of eating meat.

Healthwise, the jury is going to be out about the long-term effects of this product. I'm a vegetarian who won't eat in-vitro meat. I also wouldn't want to volunteer to be a test subject for the meat industry.

I'm surprised that PETA is behind this. On a fundamental level, it is sensible because they advocate for animal rights. I just don't see how advocating for people to eat glass-grown steak is going to be ultimately beneficial for the movement. That's my long two cents.

evolution said...

I gave up meat and dairy for health reasons. Kindness to animals and a healthier environment are beautiful side effects for me. So, meat is still meat. For those who gave up meat because they do not wish to be part of the cruelty of living beings, keep in mind this frankenmeat is going to be supplemented with salmon oil and unless they are growing hunks of salmon flesh (which they just may be for all I know), there will still be some Earthlings being slaughted.

Unknown said...

Evolution -

I noticed the salmon oil, too, but wasn't sure if that was grown like the meat. I think if they wanted to start growing anything, it should be fish, since they're becoming so scare and over-fishing poses pretty immediate environmental problems.

Anyway, I couldn't really bring myself back to the old way of eating, either. Although they do claim this new meat is healthier-- pure muscle, no saturated fat, infused with omega-3's (there's the salmon oil), etc. But I question it all.

dera1013 -

It is strange to me how "on board" PETA is. I guess they're mostly about cruelty-free meat. I do wonder how many, if any, animals need to be slaughtered in order to mass produce this meat.

You said you don't think people will change their slaughtered animal eating habits for this tube meat? Some of these articles I've read (I linked to them) seem to think that farms are in trouble if this is successful. It does make me wonder about meat snobs and chefs though. They'd probably turn their noses at this kind of meat.

Thanks for sharing!

Jain said...

Yes to the above and I'm very disappointed in PETA.

I don't care for present day faux meat (burgers, tofurkey, chicken strips, etc.) because I don't WANT to put anything in my mouth that resembles dead, burned flesh. This stuff has no appeal for me.

Personally, I think herbivores have to be pure in our vegetarianism if we're ever to stop restaurants from putting fish sauce in entrees and chicken stock in soup. The confusion over what's acceptably veg and what's not will only worsen if this gains traction.