Lab grown meat has the possibility to cure the current meat consumption epidemic. Lab grown meat, or cultured meat, is animal proteins grown in a lab through the use of stem cells. The benefits to the environment of switching to lab grown meat would be immense. According to an LCA done by the University of Oxford in the Netherlands lab grown meat uses less energy, land, and water while reducing green house gas emissions: “In comparison to conventionally produced European meat, cultured meat involves approximately 7-45% lower energy use, 78-96% lower GHG emissions, 99% lower land use, and 82-96% lower water use depending on the product compared.” All of the environmental maltreatment associated with raising cattle could disappear… if you eat it.
Would you eat it?
Leery meat eaters reluctant to change could be one of the largest hurdles facing cultured meat. The thought of eating lab grown beef might sound gross to you, and you aren’t alone. According to a survey done by Pew Research Center, only 20% of surveyees were willing to try lab grown meat over regular meat. Other struggle holding it back is the extreme cost of research and development for the processes to produce a product close enough to the real thing. Another issue is the general trend of society moving towards natural organic processes and away from GMO crops let alone meat. On top of that there are no health studies done to show it is safe, however that may not be an issue.
Public Health Benefit
The value of cultured meat goes beyond the environment and includes making meat healthier. When grown in a lab, scientists can alter levels of saturated and unsaturated fat to produce a heart healthy alternative to traditional meat. The question of flavor and texture comes into play when messing with things like this but there should be a middle ground between healthy and delicious. Also the spread of diseases linked to infected livestock would no longer be an issue in society.
I believe the benefits outweigh the cost if and only if the product is developed into a near perfect replica. The push to switch may be tough if we are forced to eat protein goo, however I am more than willing to try it and hope to see it in stores one day. I hope to do my part in reducing our environmental footprint and this could be one way in doing that available in the not to distant future.