Would You Eat ‘Cultivated Meat’ Over Traditional?

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When I first heard of ‘cultivated meat,’ I wasn’t sure what we were talking about. But its proponents say it could help save planet Earth.

Imagine ordering a nice thick, juicy steak at your favorite steakhouse. Or imagine a perfectly prepared pork chop cooked to order. But before you take a bite, you learn that you’re about to sink your teeth into cultivated meat.

That’s meat that was created in a laboratory, not on a farm where cattle and livestock are raised.

Would you think twice about that first bite? I think many of us would. There’s something completely unnatural about lab-created meat, even though it has a completely natural origin.

Cultivated meat sounds like something out of Star Trek. But it’s not some vision from the future. It already exists.

Like it or not, it’s already happening

On a farm in the Netherlands, a veterinarian removes “a peppercorn-size sample of muscle tissue” from a cow and sends it to a lab. In the lab, a cellular biologist works with those samples to create stem cells which will be cultivated in “a nutrient-dense growth medium.” 

These biologists create samples of both fat cells and muscle cells and will eventually transfer them to a “bioreactor.” 

There, the samples soak in a “nutrient broth optimized for cell multiplication.”

Once they’ve grown the appropriate amount, the products of the bioreactors are combined into “a product resembling ground hamburger meat.” 

Said meat has the exact same genetic code as the cow from which the samples were taken. The cow doesn’t die for its meat. 

In other words, thanks to science, we can eat the cow and have it, too. 

Environmentalists say it is crticial to help the planet: farming cows for an ever-growing population increases greenhouse-gas emissions. Those emissions continue to contribute to global warming.

“What we do to cows, it’s terrible,” cellular biologist Johanna Melke told TIME magazine. “What cows do to the planet when we farm them for meat? It’s even worse. But people want to eat meat. This is how we solve the problem.”

A recent Washington Post article reported meat production accounts for about 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not a small amount, folks.

Helping the planet…and the animals

I’m an animal lover. I always have been. But I’m also a meat eater. I do realize that whenever I eat a ribeye, for example, or a piece of fried chicken, or even a strip of bacon, an animal has had to die for me to be able to do so. Even if I eat a healthier filet of salmon, yes, a living thing died ahead of reaching my dinner plate.

Of course, before vegans get too high and mighty, plant life has to pay the ultimate price for them to enjoy their salad.

We kill to eat — whether it’s animal or plant life. Something has to die so we can be fed.

Of all of the farmyard-type animals I’ve encountered in person, I actually like cows. They’re sweet animals. If you ever pet one at some sort of petting zoo or state fair, you’ll find them to be surprisingly affectionate. They’ll nuzzle you if you pet them.

I try not to think about that when I go to the butcher section of the grocery store. None of us — unless we live on a livestock or poultry farm — seems to have much difficulty forgetting about the animal lives we take when we plan our next meal.

But we eat what we eat. That’s not likely to change drastically, at least until climate change forces a more dramatic shift — either from a loss of livestock or rising prices that make a carnivorous lifestyle more cost-prohibitive.

If it smells like a cow and tastes like a cow…

They’re already making beef and pork in a lab. I’m sure they’re probably making chicken in a lab as well. Maybe one day our Thanksgiving dinner will consist of lab-cultivated turkey.

If it tastes like the real thing — and it should, since it’s an exact copy of that real thing — we shouldn’t object to it. It’s a win-win-win: We get food, the animals are saved and we help the environment. It’s all good, all the way around.

But how do we trust that these little “nutrient-dense growth mediums” and “nutrient broths” are safe? If its just growing cells, it should be fine. How do we know it’s fine.

Hell, we now live in a society in which people won’t trust science just because politicians with zero medical training say they shouldn’t. So how do we get past the tall order of getting them to trust this type of technology?

I like the idea of cultivated meat. Since it’s made from actual cells of the real thing and just duplicated, it should be safe for us and the animals we’re no longer having to slaughter.

But maybe, just maybe, I want to see others chew on it for a while before it makes its way to my dinner plate.

Maybe there’d be a way to safely integrate it into “traditional” meat as a test. Or maybe we should have the opportunity for some taste-testing to compare one with the other side by side.

Given the cost involved in the new technology, it’ll be a long time before people are buying it. Cultivated meat prices would have to come down below traditional meat prices for it to become a truly accepted product. That’ll take a while, I think.

The good thing there is that it’ll give us a lot more time to process the idea.

Would you try cultivated meat for your dinner? Would you trust the technology?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.