So earlier this year Dutch scientists
used stem cells to create strips of muscle tissue, which many are
claiming is a sign of greater things to come – the mass production
of lab-grown hamburgers! An exciting prospect…but for who? Well,
At the moment it is estimated that with
current techniques, the cost of producing a fully fledged hamburger
will run you £200, 000. But not to worry, as soon as the technique
has been mastered and improved, the cost will go down significantly.
So much so, that in the future, some predict, it will be far more
cost-efficient to artificially grow meat than to rear cows for
As it stands, it is highly inefficient
to produce meat the old-fashioned way, in that it takes 100g of plant
protein to produce only 15g of animal protein. I personally think it
would be more efficient to eliminate meat from the picture entirely
and keep the 100g of plant protein as it is, without cycling it
through livestock or using it to artificially grow meat. However,
there is a high demand for meat.
By growing meat in a lab, costs can be
cut and, more importantly, there could be an end to the meat industry
in sight. Good news for livestock, good news for vegetarians and
vegans, and good news for the meat-eaters who could see artificial
meat becoming cheaper than its traditional counterpart. Of course
some may argue, myself included, that it would be more effective on
one’s health, on the welfare of animals and on the environment to
replace plant protein with animal protein completely. But still,
synthetic meat seems to have more advantages than meat which used to
be alive and well.
The important question is, would I eat
synthetic meat? Well, if I could be sure that no animal were harmed
in the process, I don’t see the problem in trying it, just out
Interestingly, the Dutch scientist Mark
Post has said he imagines a world 25 years from now in which real
meat will have some sort of warning sign reading ‘A cow suffered in
the process in the making of this meat’. Such meat may carry a huge
eco-tax as well for being so detrimental to the environment in terms
of the greenhouse gases released, land ruined and rainforests
destroyed. People could naturally end up preferring synthetic meat
since it will be cheaper, more ethical and environmentally friendly.
Well, maybe producing synthetic meat is unnecessary altogether. After
all, vegans have preferred a plant-based diet to an animal-based one
because of these same ethical and environmental motives.