Many Vegans Support Cultivated Meat But Won’t Eat It, Poll Finds. Here’s Why

Cultured meat is made using real animal cells, but can be created without harming or killing any animals


3 Minutes Read

A plate of Upside Foods cultured chicken and vegetables A number of brands, like Upside Foods, are making cruelty-free cultured meat - Media Credit: Upside Foods

A poll conducted by the vegan dating app Veggly indicates that vegans generally support the idea of cell-based meat, but few have plans to consume it.

The relationships platform sent a survey to its 750,000 worldwide users to gauge attitudes toward the future of food.

Findings revealed that almost half of vegan users (47 percent) want to see the innovation take off. However, they have no desire to eat it themselves. Conversely, 24 percent of people identifying as vegan said they would try cultured meat and still consider themselves plant-based. This is due to it often being classified as a “cruelty-free” product.

Veggly’s poll also revealed that 29 percent of participants do not support the idea of cultivated meat at all. Furthermore, they would never eat it as part of their vegan diet.

The figures were almost identical to vegetarian users. The group revealed that 22 percent are willing to eat the products. Meanwhile, 50 percent are in support of the idea of them overall.

“Of course, there will be many different viewpoints in the vegan community on this issue; nothing will change that. But we need to understand the wider reality that anything that helps keep animals off plates is a good thing for a vegan world and is more environmentally friendly,” Veggly founder Alex Felipelli said in a statement.

“I hope that when we check these survey results again next year, the figures improve!”

Is cultivated meat vegan?

As it contains animal tissue, cultured meat is technically not vegan. However, consumers who ditched meat for animal welfare purposes could potentially resume eating it when cell-based products become widely available. 

Unlike conventional meat, which is supported by an enormous animal farming sector, cultivated products require just a few cells to produce large quantities of food. Taken from living animals, apparently without harm, they are placed in industrial bioreactors. Here, they are fed and grown into meat suitable for human consumption.

Despite not requiring the slaughter of animals directly, the cellular agriculture sector has faced criticism for support of cruel practices. In particular, the sector’s initial use of fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is collected from unborn calves, was a concern. 

However, multiple cultured meat companies, including Upside Foods, have developed their own animal-free alternatives to FBS. 

An environmentally friendly alternative to meat

Commercial animal agriculture produces 345 metric tonnes of meat per year. This contributes at least 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and presents a threat to global efforts to reduce planetary heating, including the Paris Agreement.

To produce one kilogram of beef requires around 15,000 liters of water. It also emits around 100 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions, 49 percent of which is ultra-harmful methane. Comparatively, lab-grown meat has the potential to cut emissions and water usage by 96 percent each. This depends on the variety of meat, however.

Alongside lower emissions comes the potential for reduced deforestation, a known consequence of beef cattle rearing, and slashed risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks in farm animals. 

“The more momentum cultured meat gains, the less demand there will be for animal meat,” Felipelli said.

“Ultimately, we as vegans just want to save as many animal lives as possible and protect the planet – cultured meat is one of the new innovations that will help us achieve this, so it’s worth supporting or encouraging, even if we don’t want to eat it.”

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