Today in London, history was made when the first ever laboratory-grown hamburger was tasted.
Does that sound weird? Well, it kind of is. Muscle stem cells were taken from the shoulder of a cow in a biopsy, grown in a dish and then assembled into a burger. A few things were added of course – salt, egg, beet juice and saffron for colour. According to the taste testers, it was kind of meaty, but lacked flavour and was lean.
That isn’t really the point. The point is, although it would be at least ten years before this sort of “meat” could be mass-produced, it could actually have a huge impact on the agricultural and farming industries as we know them.
Is it a good idea? There’s no doubt that current meat production methods are unsustainable as the world’s population increases – is cultured meat the answer? In many ways it would greatly reduce carbon emissions, and improve the overall environmental impact of farming. It could also be healthier – at the moment pure muscle is being grown, providing a really lean, protein rich food.
However, many people are of the opinion that simply “not eating meat” is a better method of tackling the unsustainability and environmental impact that the meat industry notoriously brings with it, and that this type of meat shouldn’t be encouraged if it means people will eat more meat. In a world where obesity and heart disease run rampant, many believe that eating meat, in any form, simply should not be encouraged.
But are these people living in a dream world where they believe everybody will become vegetarian simply because it is better for their health? Is it time to realise that a great number of people will always want to eat meat? If so, maybe this is a promising step forwards in catering to those people. That seems to be the opinion of PETA, who have supported the process for a number of years now, and even offered a one million dollar reward for the first researchers to create test tube chicken.
Of course, those who are into organic, GM free foods would not go near this sort of meat in a million years. But they don’t have to – it is simply a potential alternative to factory farming for anyone that may be interested in trying it.
Obviously, many people (even seasoned meat eaters) may find the idea “un-natural” and “strange”, but those are exactly the same words I would use to describe a hotdog.
So, Flaming Vegans, what are your thoughts? Way forward or waste of money?