A Real Meat (Almost) All Vegetarians Can Eat. Now Animal Free.

Advancements in creating artificial meat raise questions.

Would you eat meat that was grown in a lab? Many millions of dollars have been bet on the idea that you would. Memphis Meats, a company that hopes to produce competitively priced lab grown meat, has recently been given large investments by big names such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson. With the huge impact on our environment that modern animal husbandry can have, the UN estimates producing meat creates more greenhouse gases than all of our gas-powered vehicles combined, many environmentalists are praising the idea of lab-grown meat.


But many of you are wondering, “Is it real meat?”. And if it is, should vegetarians still be concerned?

The meat is grown from the cells of animals encouraged to reproduce without a larger animal attached. So, strictly speaking, yes. It is really animal tissue. It is also, generally, placed in a growth medium that is similar to what animals are exposed to at some point in their lives; the first publicly available lab meat was grown in a culture made with fetal calf serum.

But, is it real enough to mean that vegetarians cannot eat it?

Yes and no, it depends not only on who you ask but on why they choose not to eat meat.

Historically, many vegetarians have been dedicated to the idea of animal rights. Such thinkers as Peter Singer have argued that eating an animal is wrong along lines of feeling compassion for anything sentient or that can feel pain. For these people, eating meat that was never part of a larger living thing might prove more palatable.

More recently, an objection to eating meat has been for the effects on the environment of producing meat. With so much carbon output, degradation of soil, antibiotic use, and destruction of wildlife habitat having livestock production as a root cause, lab grown meat offers an alternative that is much more environmentally friendly.

However, some objections still remain unsolvable. In some Hindu philosophy, any food that came from an animal is viewed negatively. While the cells of a lab grown burger might never have been able to feel pain, their donor animal did. For these vegetarians, no amount of technological mastery will ever grant them a cutlet they can eat.

On an economic note, the high level of technological sophistication required to produce lab-grown meat may increase dependence on large corporations for the maintenance of the food supply. Something that many people find objectionable, and which grants a great deal of power to a small group of people.

 And, of course, many people are still queasy about the idea of artificial meat.

Would you eat a lab grown steak? Fortunes have been bet on the idea that you would. But would you be willing to agree that a major ethical hurdle has been cleared? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

The philosophy of tragedy & the tragedy of philosophy - with Simon Critchley

Tragedy in art, from Ancient Greece to Breaking Bad, resists all our efforts to tie reality up in a neat bow, to draw some edifying lesson from it. Instead it confronts us with our own limitations, leaving us scrabbling in the rubble of certainty to figure out what's next.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why democracy has been unpopular with philosophers
  • Tragedy's reminder that the past isn't finished with us
  • …and why we need art in the first place
Keep reading Show less

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 

popular

Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less