A cruelty-free future
Lab-grown meat has been spoken about for many years, with cutting down on our consumption of meat high on the agenda for many countries. One manufacturer has predicted that synthetic meat could finally make its way to supermarket shelves as early as the end of this year.
Referred to as ‘clean meat’, the in vitro animal products are created from stem cells harvested via biopsy. Using only a handful of cells, the cultured meat is grown in a laboratory for several weeks where it is incubated with heat and fed nutrients.
Although creating certain textures to match foie gras or chorizo have been easier to come by, the process of growing a steak appears to be much more complex as it involves working with muscle cells, fat cells and connective tissues to perfect the texture and taste.
Arguably the biggest challenge for the industry is changing public perception. People have naturally been reluctant about diverging from meat that is traditionally farmed. If you mention animal muscles and fat cells in laboratories, many people would feel repulsed but if you point out the potential health and ethical benefits, the prospect would instantly sound more appealing. This means that the marketing behind lab-grown meat will be crucial to how the industry performs and whether it will become a success worldwide.
With an estimated 14.5% of global emissions generated from raising livestock, introducing clean meat could be the way forward if we are looking to become more environmentally conscious as consumers.
At present, 26 billion pounds of beef is consumed each year in America alone and with the global population ballooning, this figure is likely to be much higher in the next few years. Whilst lab-grown meat does not deliver the promise that animals will stop being slaughtered for food, it does ensure that we consume a lot less meat.
Despite the concept having mixed reviews, cultured meat has the backing of some environmentalists with one study carried out even indicating that it could reduce harmful greenhouse emissions by 96%. The animal rights charity PETA is also firmly behind the concept and has been investing in in vitro research in the last 6 years.
Whether you agree with it or not, cultured meat could hit the market in the next few years.