In Vitro Meat: The Future of Food?

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Test_tubes_(1)PETA and meat-eating do not usually go together. Yet this week, we’re celebrating an event that centres around tasting a real beef hamburger. This isn’t an unexpected U-turn for our organisation – because the meat being sampled today was grown in a laboratory! Dr Mark Post, a bio-scientist from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands is hosting a ceremony in London which offers the first-ever opportunity to sample a burger made from real bovine tissue produced in vitro.

PETA founder Ingrid E Newkirk explains why we’re right behind this exciting development and why PETA US has actually donated money to similar projects elsewhere in the world:

Why would a vegan-advocacy organisation actually fund the production of meat? For much the same reason that Bill Gates is sponsoring companies that are producing soya-based meat taste-alike products: because if we want to reshape the future of the environment and still produce enough food to feed the world’s booming population, we must reshape the future of meat production. Clearly, our main interest is in ending animal suffering, so we have stifled our revulsion at flesh-eating for a higher cause: to champion a breakthrough that could mean a far kinder world for billions of animals.

If in vitro technology can help end massive animal suffering, reverse environmental damage, reduce world hunger and make the food supply safer, wouldn’t everyone wish to support it?

Cultured meat is made from the same animal tissue that makes up conventional meat. But instead of being grown in an animal’s body, it is grown in a pristine laboratory environment. This eliminates many of the severe problems posed by traditional meat production: for example, it doesn’t require huge swathes of land to be bulldozed to feed animals. The UN cites livestock production as a “key factor” in deforestation, and today, approximately 30 per cent of the Earth’s land mass is used to graze animals or grow feed crops for them.

In vitro meat also does not lead to massive carbon-dioxide and methane emissions which damage the climate: scientists estimate that industrialised cultured meat production would generate 78 to 96 per cent less greenhouse gas than would conventional factory farming. It could help us to feed the hungry as well. Eating dead animals is hugely inefficient because of all the grain consumed by farmed animals, which could instead be eaten by humans.

Meat produced in a laboratory is also far safer for human consumption. The aseptic environment eliminates the risk that the meat could be infected with bacteria from factory-farm filth, such as E coli, campylobacter and salmonella. And it’s free of the antibiotics that permeate a lot of animal flesh.

Finally, of course, in vitro meat isn’t cruel. Producing it doesn’t require that billions of sentient animals be crammed into sheds, mutilated, separated from their families, drugged, slaughtered and cut up.

We’ll keep you posted about how the in vitro meat project is progressing. But there’s certainly no need to wait to stop eating the flesh of slaughtered animals – in fact, to help the planet, your health and animals, there’s no time to lose! An abundance of delicious alternatives to meat are available right now, and millions of people around the world are already enjoying all the benefits of a plant-based diet. Sign our 30-day vegan pledge to get started yourself today.


  • Tess Turner commented on August 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

    What a breakthrough! I dont eat meat but i think this is a breakthrough because billions of people wont stop eating meat and if a substitute is good enough for people to want to eat it instead of the real thing then i am all for it. So many reasons NOT to eat meat. Time it stopped. This has to be a good thing for the animals xxx

    • Wowzers commented on August 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Once again, peta should stop forgetting that if you don’t eat meat, you shouldn’t eat ANYTHING that resembles meat! What next, in-vitro veggies?

  • Yvonne Halls commented on August 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    At last some good news.Don`t know how this works but really hope it does.if it looks like meat and tastes like meat with the added bonus of knowing what has gone into it it has to be a winner.

  • miss susan green commented on August 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    this is realy good news being an animal lover and the thought of all the cruelty in shipping live animals on long journeys for the meat trade this is good news congrats on this and i hope i can see a change in my life time .

  • JaneFox commented on August 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Great article, and the new technology is quite exciting!

    If anyone here wishes to help with future in-vitro projects, btw, there’s also periodic opportunities to help with research, polls, social media, donations, or just generally being an online advocate etc, in conjunction with the in vitro meat/meat alternatives organization at (or just say hi on the New Harvest facebook page!). Public support and a bit of funding can help this alternative become a reality sooner :)

  • Loretta McKenna commented on August 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Nice work Ben – I didn’t see the debate but I heard you were amazing…

  • Anne Beaman commented on August 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

    This is disgusting. Your reasons for backing it are not valid and cannibals (the REAL name for meat eaters, let’s face the truth) will NEVER be turned on to this method – flesh is flesh. Cannibals are brain-washed from the cradle to thinking the abomination of consuming living being, desecrating the planet and inflicting horrendous abominations on other species, and they will NEVER change. VIVA! has the answer – EDUCATION. Because of what you have done, and what you are crowing over, I now no longer support you and any donations/membership/gift in my Will has been terminated.

    • Alex Blackburn commented on August 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Your forgetting that your in the minority. I will not stop eating meat. If you believe meat production is wrong then why wouldn’t you think something that will reduce the amount of meat the typical person eats is a good thing? I would eat meat if I had to go and get it myself just because I like it.

    • Matt commented on August 27, 2013 at 11:27 am



    • Alex Blackburn commented on September 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Oh thanks matt, but your not going to convince people like that.

  • Steve Broom commented on August 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Sorry Anne although Education is helpful it isn’t stopping people eating animals, or closing slaughterhouses, but this will I believe in a couple of decades make H.G.Welles prediction of redundant abbattoirs come true. Yes there will be a few unfortunate small herds, but not the billions suffering now, and you can work on that with new technology later. Its the only way that will work with the braindead public, and if you oppose then my conspiracy theory that you work in the meat industry kicks in. It is the only thing that will work and its brilliant in every way (apart from a tiny few poor creatures).

    • Anonymous commented on August 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      How could you fund such a thing . Unlike people supporting this lab grown meat i am a proper veggie. You said yourself there will be a few unfortunate herds what sort of vegetarian/ vegan would eat that. it is basically just the same as meat. And it will not close slaughter houses because they will start killing animals for their cells? I strongly think this is just as barbaric as meat. Because you are still killing animals.

  • melissa commented on August 20, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Interesting but I still think there is such a wealth of good things to eat that ARE NOT meat related…surely more energy should be put into promoting these? There is something creepy about eating flesh grown in a laboratory test tube and I am not sure meat eaters would be convinced. Once the meat industry learns of this method they are either going to try and halt it (for fear of money lost and people losing their jobs) or they are going to support it because it will save them money (no feeding animals etc). I want to hope that the lure of it being cheaper will get them supporting. Still as a veggie I feel equally repulsed about the idea of eating a hamburger…whether it was grown in a field or a test tube. But keep up the good work!

  • Mike commented on September 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I heard a scientist on BBC TVon 11th August say that manufactured or grow leather still requires stem cells from animals and is grown on cultures from the
    embyos of calves, so a huge livestock industry would still be rquired. The implication was that so would manufactured/cultured meat would, as well.

    Is this right? I just don’t know enough about the science.

  • Vasu Murti commented on September 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Test tube meat? It’s animal protein, but it doesn’t involve violence. It doesn’t involve taking the life of a fellow creature. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is offering millions to anyone who can perfect lab grown meat.

    To me, this is science fiction. When I was in grade school in the early ’70s, I remember reading a science fiction book called The Lost Race of Mars. It was set in the year 2017, depicting a future in which humans have colonies on the Moon and Mars. The colonists enjoy meat grown in labs and test tubes, as it’s impossible to transport livestock through space, go through the waste of resources and energy to raise animals for food (and deal with the animals’ waste!) in colonies on other worlds, etc.

    “Pound for pound, many vegetarian foods are better sources of protein than meat. A 100-gram portion of lentils yields twenty-five grams of protein, while a hundred grams of soybeans yields thirty-four grams of protein.

    “But although meat provides less protein, it costs more. A spot check of supermarkets in Florida in August 2005 showed sirloin steak costing $7.87 a pound, while staple ingredients for delicious vegetarian meals averaged less than $1.50 a pound.

    “Becoming a vegetarian could potentially save an individual shopper at least several hundred dollars each year, thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. The savings to consumers as a whole would amount to billions of dollars annually. Considering all this, it’s hard to see how anyone could afford not to become a vegetarian.”

    (The Higher Taste: A Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet, 2006)

    No need for test-tube meat: the imitation meat and dairy products are just as delicious! When I was vegan in the ’90s, my mom asked me if I missed ice cream. Not really. The soy ice creams are just as good!

    For those of us who are veg for *ethical* reasons, the nutritional debates over soy, etc. aren’t even an issue. The health advantages of going veg are just a pleasant side effect of a nonviolent philosophy. And meat and dairy analogs provide us with familiar tastes–without the cruelty.

    Since *taste* is what the meat-eaters crave (and they claim is preventing them from giving up meat), why would they object to imitation meat and dairy products? That way, they can enjoy familiar tastes without the cruelty.

    In San Diego, California, during 1989-1991, when we were roommates, my friend Greg referred to meat as “negative energy food,” and enjoyed imitation meats, saying, “There’s no excuse for eating meat when you have products like these which are just as good!”

    On the other hand, my sister-in-law Julie said that when her brother Chris was offered a vegan cheesecake by his friend Bill Bushnell’s mother, Chris refused to even try it!

    (Chris and Bill Bushnell have known each other since elementary school. And Mrs. Bushnell, involved with the Humane Society of the United States for decades, eventually got her entire family to go vegan!)

    But Julie says when another friend of ours, John Antypas, not vegetarian nor vegan himself, but into baking, made a vegan cheesecake, she and my brother thoroughly enjoyed it!

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