Laboratory-grown meat is not a panacea.
Laboratory-grown meat may seem at once a Frankenfoods nightmare, as well
as a solution to the animal rights and environmental concerns regarding
meat-eating. While some animal protection organizations applaud the idea,
meat grown in a laboratory could never be called
vegan, would be wasteful, and would not be cruelty-free.
Contains Animal Products
Although the number of animals affected
would be greatly reduced, laboratory-grown meat would still require the use
of animals. When scientists created the first laboratory-grown meat, they
muscle cells from a live pig. However, cell cultures and tissue cultures
typically do not live and reproduce forever. To mass-produce
laboratory-grown meat on an ongoing basis, scientists would need a constant
supply of live pigs, cows, chickens and other animals from which to take
cells. The animals may even be slaughtered to produce enough live muscle
Furthermore, the scientists grew the cells "in a broth of other
animal products," which means that animals were used and perhaps killed in
order to create the broth. This broth is either the food for the tissue
culture, the matrix upon which the cells were grown, or both. Although the
types of animal products used were not specified, it is clear that the
product could not be called vegan if the tissue culture was grown in animal
Scientists are hopeful that
laboratory-grown meat will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but growing
animal cells in a laboratory would still be a waste of resources, even if
the cells were grown in a vegan medium. Traditional animal agriculture is
wasteful because feeding grain to animals so that we can eat the animals is
an inefficient use of resources. It takes 10 to 16 pounds of grain to
produce one pound of
feedlot beef. Similarly, feeding plant foods to a muscle tissue culture
would be wasteful compared to feeding plant foods to people directly.
Energy would also be required to "exercise" the muscle tissue, to create
a texture similar to meat.
Growing meat in a laboratory may be more
efficient than feedlot beef because only the desired tissues would be fed
and produced, but it cannot be more efficient than feeding plant foods
directly to people. However, Pamela Martin, an associate professor in
geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, co-authored a paper on
the increased greenhouse gas emissions of a meat-based diet over a
plant-based diet, and questions whether laboratory-grown meat would be more
efficient than traditional meat.
Martin stated, "It sounds like an energy-intensive process to me."
Animal Use and Suffering
Assuming that immortal cell lines from
cows, pigs and chickens could be developed and no new animals would have to
be killed to produce certain types of meat, the use of animals to develop
new types of meat
would still continue. Even today, with thousands of years of traditional
animal agriculture behind us, scientists still try to breed new varieties of
animals who grow larger and faster, whose flesh has certain health benefits,
or who have certain disease resistance. In the future, if laboratory-grown
meat becomes a commercially viable product, scientists will continue to
breed new varieties of animals. They will continue to experiment with cells
from different types and species of animals, and those animals will be bred,
kept, confined, used and killed in the never-ending search for a better
Also, because current research into laboratory-grown meat
is using animals, it cannot be called
cruelty-free, and purchasing the product would support animal suffering.
While laboratory-grown meat would probably reduce animal suffering, it�s
important to keep in mind that it is not vegan and that animals will suffer
for laboratory-grown meat.