Friday, June 24, 2011

Mock meat: bring it on!

Mock meat, faux meat, lab meat, cultured meat . . . The May 23, 2011 New Yorker includes an article about a possibility that would make environmentalists, animal welfare advocates and yes, animals, very happy.

Scientists around the world are working to develop “meat” that would have the benefits of animal meat without its many downsides -- consumption of freshwater resources and farm land, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

The worst downside of animal meat is its production: animals “born solely to be killed”; factory farms where animals live short, confined, horrid lives; the slaughterhouse.

Willem van Eelen, the man credited for the initial idea, has worked toward the goal of laboratory-made meat for most of his life. He’s now 88.

Not till stem cells were discovered in 1981 could his idea start to catch on. In
1999, van Eelen received US and international patents for the Industrial Production of Meat Using Cell Culture Methods.

“For the most part,” says “Test-Tube Burgers” author Michael Specter, “the meat we eat consists of muscle tissue taken from farm animals . . . In-vitro meat, however, can be made . . . ” with this goal: “to grow muscle without the use of animals, and to produce enough of it to be sold in grocery stores.”

Today “the world consumes 285 million tons of meat every year – 90 pounds per person,” Specter reports.

Considering the world’s ever-growing population, which means still more meat eaters, the option of attractive, edible “cultured meat” may seem far more attractive to people than their becoming vegans.

But whichever option “wins” – and of course they could co-exist -- it will mean a great new world for animals. Chickens, cows, calves, pigs and sheep, rejoice!

No comments: