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When I talk about ‘cultured meat’ or ‘clean meat‘ so many people say to me that it is disgusting, or ‘unnatural’.
Some people just can’t understand how anyone would eat it?
What many fail to understand is that 95 percent of all meat consumed in the Western world is produced on factory farms and nothing natural happens on a factory farm. Nothing.
These are places where thousands of sentient feeling animals are crammed into tiny spaces, standing in their own feces and urine for months and months at a time.
Some do not see light, or breathe fresh air for their entire lives – until the day they are taken to a slaughterhouse and killed.
At the moment, clean meat is not available to consumers – but that could change soon.
Bruce Friedrich is the Co-founder and Executive Director of The Good Food Institute [GFI] – an nonprofit that promotes plant-based meat, dairy, and egg substitutes, as well as clean meat alternatives to the products of conventional animal agriculture.
He told me: “Multiple companies have already done tastings of a variety of different clean meat products.
“It is not inconceivable that some people will be able to buy clean meat at a high-end restaurant within the next year or so. Scaling up production will take years longer, though.”
So looking at the systematic horror of the industrial farming complex, with clean meat on the horizon, should vegans support it, even though it is not vegan?
Clean meat is not vegan because it is cultured using cells from animals. In addition, some manufacturers use foetal bovine serum in the process, though some – for example food tech startup JUST – say they will not use it in products brought to market.
Paul Shapiro, author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, told me: “Clean meat isn’t intended for vegans – it’s real meat, after all.
“But vegans should support clean meat innovations since they can help animals, the planet, and public health – the three primary reasons people choose to become vegan in the first place.”
Friedrich added: “Clean meat will cause no discomfort with animal treatment or slaughter.
“There will be no fecal contamination or threat of food poisoning. Once we can offer people a product that is the same in terms of taste, price, and convenience, but without factory farms and slaughterhouses, people will be happy to align their choices with their ethics.
“Clean meat companies won’t have to do anything special – they will be giving consumers what they want. The general public recognizes that the way we produce meat today really is ‘icky’ and not something they want to support.
“An Oklahoma State Food Demand Survey found that 47 percent of respondents want to ban slaughterhouses. 47 percent also support banning factory farming animals, and 68 percent said they had discomfort with the way animals are used in the food industry.”
JUST Founder Josh Tetrick says clean meat chicken will hit the market this year
Cellular agriculture – the creation of clean meat – uses a fraction of the natural resources we need to produce flesh using standard animal agriculture practices.
So really what is more ‘natural’? Abusing and torturing animals for their flesh, while simultaneously destroying our planet?
Or growing tissues in clean and hygienic labs without slaughtering billions of living beings at a lower environmental cost?
Speaking about the sustainability of clean meat – as well as guarantees consumers may seek in terms of the products impact, Shapiro says: “Clean meat is likely to be both safer and more sustainable than conventional meat today.
“It’s imperative that credible third parties (not just the manufacturers themselves) such as food safety, animal welfare, and environmental groups, help inform consumers of the benefits clean meat innovations offer. At scale, clean meat will be produced not in labs, but in breweries that really resemble beer breweries today.
“It seems likely that there’ll be limited, symbolic commercialization of some clean animal products in the next year or so. I’d suggest that more meaningful commercialization in which these products will regularly be on store shelves is still years – though not decades – away.”
It is the future. And just like many other technologies that came before, people where initially afraid of them but then they where widely accepted.
And as my friend Khaled bin Alwaleed Alsaud says “It’s time to resign factory farming to the dustbin of history…”
This technology could help us end it, forever.