Eating Fake Meat Could Be Worse for Animals than Factory Farming

In a world where we all eat fake meat — and so stop breeding domesticated livestock — the animals happiness we prize could simply disappear.

The future of the planet and animal welfare would be better if developed countries stopped or reduced their consumption of meat. But switching from Turkey to Tofurkey doesn’t happen quickly, especially when it’s something that tastes so good. Even when confronted with the moral implications of our meat-eating ways, we justify our habits by rationalizing its consumption is necessary to live (and it tastes delicious).


It's just not going to happen, explained Harvard University Primatologist, Richard Wrangham, in an interview with The Guardian"It is a practical matter: people are going to continue wanting meat, and a system of meat production that reduces the environmental and ethical costs will be a great benefit." Meat is cheap and meat tastes good, so pending a natural disaster that would force us to reduce our demand for meat, scientists have been developing an alternative solution.

"[I]f we stop or nearly stop raising livestock, then the sum of pig, cow, and chicken happiness in the world will be approximately zero."

Enter: in vitro meat. It's biologically identical to the real thing only it has been cultured in a lab, so it's meat without the murder and the horrible, unsustainable conditions. It's still a long way off from coming to market (there's still an issue of producing it in a cost-effective way), but it could very well put a stop to all the environmental and moral issues surrounding livestock.

Julian Savulescu, Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, agrees. She said in an interview with The Guardian"Artificial meat stops cruelty to animals, is better for the environment, could be safer and more efficient, and even healthier. We have a moral obligation to support this kind of research. It gets the ethical two thumbs up."

The truth of the matter is that extinction may be the best we can do. “It’s a shame if that’s the best we can do.”

Hold your applause for artificial meat, because it may not be the savior livestock and animal rights activists are looking for. Ben Levinstein and Anders Sandberg argue, on one hand, in vitro meat would put a stop to factory farms, which would in turn reduce the environmental impact of sustaining such an unsustainable product. But then what happens to all the livestock?

Levinstein and Sandberg write it would be something close to endangerment or extinction: “The basic reason: if we stop or nearly stop raising livestock, then the sum of pig, cow, and chicken happiness in the world will be approximately zero. Although the sum currently is very likely negative, it would be a shame if virtual extinction of these species is our best moral option.”

It's easy to say what the solution should be: find ways to raise livestock in a more humane, less environmentally damaging way. One of the ways to do that is if market demand for meat were to go down, but that suggestion has already been put on the table. The truth of the matter is that extinction may be the best we can do. “It’s a shame if that’s the best we can do,” they write.

Eating meat is a part of our cultural and personal identity—think Christmas hams or Thanksgiving turkeys—but the factory farming system is not sustainable.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less

Following sex, some men have unexpected feelings – study

A new study shows that some men's reaction to sex is not what you'd expect, resulting in a condition previously observed in women.

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study shows men's feelings after sex can be complex.
  • Some men reportedly get sad and upset.
  • The condition affected 41% of men in the study
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Climate change is no longer a financial problem, just a political one.
  • Mitigating climate change by decarbonizing our economy would add trillions of dollars in new investments.
  • Public attitudes toward climate change have shifted steadily in favor of action. Now it's up to elected leaders.