In Vitro Meat: The Future of Food?

Posted by on August 5, 2013 | Permalink

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.