Soon, the meat on your plate won’t come from an animal farm or butcher shop. Instead, it will come from a laboratory. At the restaurant 1880 in Singapore, chicken meat grown from a petri dish is fried golden brown and served alongside a crispy maple waffle and hot sauce. So why the sudden urge to eat lab-grown meat? No, the demand for typical farmed meat is not necessarily outgrowing supply (although that could happen in 2050). However, the ecological consequences for typical meat and dairy farming have been rather devastating as of late. Hello, climate change. As a result, more and more eco-conscious consumers and food scientists have been on a brainstorming binge for the past several years for more culinary alternatives aside from plant-based ones. But do we have to need to give up on regular burgers, steaks, and fried chicken for good? It depends on if laboratories can make cheaper, eco-friendly yet equally tasty lab meat. Ergo let’s see how this meat stacks up now and how much of it is good or rotten!
Good Meat (Pros)
Raising livestock animals by the billions and overfishing our oceans come with severe consequences: climate change acceleration via excessive greenhouse gas emissions and dangerous algae growth, and the increased spread of zoonotic diseases, to name a few. On the other hand, lab-grown meat utilizes less land, water, and natural resources. Research has found that “farming” a ton of lab-grown or cultured meat can involve 7 to 45 percent less energy use than regular farming. Growing cultured meat also has lower emission of greenhouse gases, at 78 to 96 percent less.
The future of farming only involves four steps. The first step involves the extraction of muscle stem cells from the animal of choice. Second, the cells are then proliferated and multiplied in a dish. Third, the cell sample is immersed in a nutrient-rich broth. And the last step has the cell sample and broth transferred to an oxygen-rich and temperature-regulated vat. In two weeks, you have edible meat.
Although the selling of lab-grown meat is only legal in Singapore as of this writing, the demand for lab-grown or cultured meat won’t be a problem. This is because meat laboratories can be put up anywhere and can produce cultured meat quickly and efficiently. Perhaps governments should consider the consumer and legalize the commercialization of cultured meat right away – world hunger begone.
No animal cruelty
Consider the life of a chicken in a typical poultry farm. Caged, fed artificial food, subjected to hormone injections, and culled. In meat labs, such horrors are non-existent as a muscle cell sample, or even a feather, is the only thing needed from a chicken – and it won’t have to die in the process.
“Future farming” involves three key components: animal stem cells, protein-based feed or broth (growth medium), and vats filled with bioreactors. The feed or broth can also include additional vitamins, minerals, and flavorings. Lab meat’s nutritional profile is highly customizable. For example, a beef burger patty’s saturated fat content can be removed and replaced with omega-3 derived from fish.
Rotten Meat (Cons)
Long-term ecological concerns
Some experts are wary of the emissions produced and energy used by meat laboratories as large-scale production hasn’t happened yet due to lab meat commercialization not being legalized yet in most parts of the world. Moreover, experts say that meat labs must run on renewable energy, or their efforts to produce eco-friendly meat alternatives will be all for naught.
Lack of consumer research
There are still those with concerns about the growth mediums and hormones used in the production of lab-grown meat. Research still has to be done about prolonged human exposure to such lab meat ingredients.
Only for the ones with expensive taste
In 2013, it took approximately 250,000 euros to produce one lab-grown beef patty. Today, in Singapore, you can try cultured chicken for around 23 dollars. Care to chip in?
Bacon, burgers, and steaks. Fish fingers, chicken nuggets, and duck fillets. All of these can now be produced in a nice, clean lab with little to no chance of e-coli or salmonella growth. With the world’s population continuing to grow and the dangers of world hunger and climate change never ceasing to disappear, perhaps it is time for a radical change. A radical but still scrumptious change. Only time will tell whether this meat is worth cooking.
Deinah Storm used to work in the corporate world as a marketing affiliate. She quit her job to pursue her passion for writing, but to this day, Deinah is committed to educating consumers about the different marketing scams and how to avoid them.