Is Lab Grown Meat A Viable Option?

Environmental Benefit

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.

gizmodo.com

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

sources:

climatereporter. “[CON]: Don’t Count on Cultured Meat to Save the Planet.” By Climate Confidential — Beacon. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
“Lab-grown Meat Is in Your Future, and It May Be Healthier than the Real Stuff.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
Smith, Aaron. “U.S. Views of Technology and the Future.” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
Tuomisto, Hanna. “Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production.” – Environmental Science & Technology (ACS Publications). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

 

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Is Lab Grown Meat A Viable Option?

  1. Emilie Adamovic

    Do you happen to know more about the science behind how its grown? This seems like such a revolutionary meat substitute. I would love to try it, but I agree that with the GMO scare, society might not be too keen on the idea. I think once some big chefs start using it and make it seem easy to incorporate into restaurant menus then it will become more popular in society.

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    • walkernewton

      What is being developed right now is a “ground beef” that originates from muscle fibers in the cows shoulder. There isn’t a way to grow a steak, so it would be limited mostly to hamburgers at this point. But I could definitely see restaurant acceptance as being a gateway to popularity.

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  2. amyquandt

    Is any lab grown meat currently available in the stores or is it still in the experimental process? What types of meat are scientists trying to replicate in the lab (chicken, beef, fish)?

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    • walkernewton

      Some companies have featured cultured hamburgers that cost thousands of dollars, but the cost is decreasing rapidly. We could be seeing cost effective lab grown meat in stores in the next 5-10 years. The primary focus is beef but other meat products are being produced like pork and poultry.

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  3. katieorlady

    I agree with the 80% of surveyees who were unwilling to try lab meat. I realize this could be the food of the future but to me it is just too abstract and unnatural to see lab meat as a realistic food choice in my diet. Do you think the majority of the population’s mental disconnect from lab meat is too large of an issue to overcome? Are scientists wasting time, money and energy on a product that will most likly never have a large consumer base?

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    • walkernewton

      I think if people can justify eating processed foods that are created in a lab making the switch for meat wont be an issue. Especially with all the environmental benefits that go along with it.

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  4. seanfox1

    I’m curious about how lab grown meat will be culturally accepted and integrated into our diets. Do you think that we will see lab-grown meat in grocery stores? Or will it become famous through a chain restaurant or in cafeterias?

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    • walkernewton

      Eventually it could be mass produced for fast food to cut the bulk of beef production while some grass fed beef operations could continue for finer dining. I think lab grown meat can be developed to a point where it looks feels and smells like regular beef so people will eventually eat it with no issues.

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