The decision to consume fewer or no animal products is influenced by many factors including a desire to reduce animal cruelty and health concerns, while promoting environmental sustainability. Thanks to in vitro meat, the end of these concerns may be in the not too distant future.
What Is In Vitro Meat?
In vitro, or cultured, meat is grown in a lab resembling a brewery. The meat is grown from cell cultures (extracted humanely) from animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. Because the meat is produced using real animal cells, it is possible to mimic the look, mouth-feel, texture and taste of traditional meat without harming animals. Scientists developing in vitro meat also claim that they can remove cholesterol, reduce fat, add nutrients and change the shape of the final product to meet a specific culinary preference. This process is also being used in the production of cruelty-free vegan leather, grown from cow cells, that will have the same look and feel as conventional leather, but with added durability. Thanks to cultured meat, environmental sustainability may be within reach for food and leather production.
Environmental Sustainability of In Vitro Meat and Vertical Farming
Compared to traditional farming, vertical farming requires the use of about 70-95% fewer resources like water, fossil fuels and land. No pesticides are needed either; the majority of the farming is done indoors in environments engineered to keep pests at bay without the use of nasty chemicals. Vertical farming can also be done in a variety of settings, meaning that urban areas can have access to locally grown and produced food. This reduces the costs associated with transportation, resulting in a healthier more cost-effective solution that promotes environmental sustainability.
In vitro meat will be grown in such a space, without any of the issues associated with keeping animals for production. This translates to a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, concerns regarding waste-removal and methane fumes and food-borne disease and illness outbreaks.
An Emerging Trend
While you cannot buy cultured meat at the grocery store today, there are several companies that are predicting their products will be available for purchase in as little as five years from now. Memphis Meats, following a global debut on February 4th of this year, is already growing hot dogs, sausages, meat balls and burgers from cell cultures and is confident that their product will be available for purchase within the next five years. Modern Meadow, based in Brooklyn, is already using the in vitro process to make vegan leather. Organizations such as PETA, The Humane League and Mercy for Animals are advocating in vitro meat as the future of consumption.
In this video, the founder of Memphis Meats discusses the first cultured meatball:
What do you think? Would you eat a lab made burger, or do you prefer plant-based meat substitutes? Let us know in the comment section.