Today, putting meat on the table causes enormous suffering to animals and environmental damage, yet one day you will be able to eat meat with ethical impunity. In vitro technology will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming.
It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer. Of course, fantastic, tasty mock meats exist already in the form of fakin' bacon, meat-free chicken patties, mock lobster and various veggie burgers – from nuts and soya to beans and grain – which offer the taste of meat without a scintilla of the cholesterol or cruelty.
Although in vitro meat isn’t on supermarket shelves yet, it will be in our lifetime. The technology involves painlessly taking a few cells from a live animal and putting them into a nutritious medium in which they will divide. Scientists have already concluded that a few cells can feed an entire nation – in fact, the world.
Every year, billions of animals are raised and killed in hellish conditions for their flesh. Animals raised for food are kicked and prodded when ill or injured and crammed into cages and trucks before making the journey to a blood-soaked killing floor. Chickens are hung upside down by their legs and “stunned” in a putrid, electrified bath. They are often still conscious when their throats are slit and they are plunged into scalding-hot defeathering tanks. If lab-grown meat becomes readily available, it could effectively bring an end to the cruel system by which animals are killed for food.
Shifting large-scale dependence on animal agriculture to lab-grown meat would also help improve human health because lab-grown meat would eliminate the use of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Outbreaks of mad cow disease, avian flu, salmonella and E. coli caused by the meat industry would become a thing of the past.
If consumers knew the scope and scale of how much of what they eat is processed, making the psychological adjustment to “fake” meat wouldn’t be much of a leap at all. Animal flesh is already sliced, diced, radiated, decontaminated, frozen, preserved and injected with additives. Meat is not “unadulterated” much less pure.
There are now a staggering 7 billion humans to feed on this planet. We’re using far too much land and water to raise animals for food and to grow grain to feed and fatten them – and we’re generating massive amounts of pollution in the process.
Fortunately, no one has to wait until in vitro meat is available to help animals and improve their own health. Meatless burgers, vegan chicken nuggets and even “fish” fingers are delicious and much kinder to your body – and to animals. We have so many choices right now that there’s no reason to continue raising and slaughtering animals for food.
You can visit PETA.org.uk for a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit full of delicious recipes. But lab-grown meat will provide people who were addicted from childhood to the saturated fat in flesh with the "methadone" for their habit.
So, would you eat in vitro meat?