Meat alternatives are everywhere: plant-based sausages in the pork aisles, Impossible Meat burgers in restaurants, veggie Prets popping up all over the country. It’s a clean meat revolution!
But for human meat-eaters, these alternatives just don’t cut it – and that’s OK. With the news that an Israeli company just grew lab-grown meat in space, even the hardcore carnivores among us will soon be able to align their taste buds to their moral compass.
It’s exciting to think that before long, we’ll be living in a world with the power to directly end one of the greatest episodes of slavery humans have ever inflicted. A world where our weekly shop will actually start combatting one of the key contributors to global warming; where we’ll pay less for a product that has the same taste, texture, nutrition and chemical composition as our favourite cuts, minus the suffering.
This isn’t an idealist’s dream.
Lab-grown meat is coming to British supermarkets in the next decade. Slaughter-free foie gras is being developed by IntegriCulture Inc. and will be hitting restaurant menus by 2023. A recent report by global consultancy AT Kearney projects that plant-based and lab-grown meat will make up 60% of all meat eaten around the world by 2040.
This near-future utopia sounds wonderful, but before we get there we need to come to terms with lab-grown meat as a society.
The issue with clean meat (a more palatable name for sure) is that it’s not-quite-life starts in a Petri dish, surrounded by white lab coats. Predictably, there’s already a lobby grinding their teeth at the thought of it being sold in our shops, even though it’s completely safe to eat and ethically produced. The more this clean meat enigma becomes a viable, mainstream competitor to the conventionally-farmed incumbent, the more this lobby is only set to grow.
“Unnatural!” they will bleat (or moo!), sipping on their aspartame-infused fizzy drinks.
“Mutant food!” they will type, preparing to devour a steroid-pumped Sirloin.
“We must protect businesses!” they will roar, in the knowledge that the biggest businesses rely on the deaths of creatures unable to lobby for themselves.
The benefits of clean meat far outweigh the only real issue with it: that it seems a bit icky.
But like many foods we consider unsavoury, this feeling is down to it being different to what we’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of centuries. The reality is lab-grown food sticks in the throat far less than the obscured truth of meat production in the UK. It’s also expected to be far better for the environment, removing the need to replace forests with soy fields and eliminating the massive amounts of methane belched out by cows each year.
Clean meat is coming. So is the lobby against it. We need to make sure the pro-lobby is ready, and strong, because clean meat will save lives. It’s a future in which we’ll be able to eat a little more soundly.
Read other articles from our Environmentalism Writer and Creative Campaigner, Kate Savin, including: