OPINION: Clean Meat Is Not Vegan - But It Could Help End Factory Farming Forever

Should vegans support this emerging technology?
Could clean meat save billions of animals from slaughter every year? (Photo: Armando Ascorve Morales)

When I talk about 'cultured meat' or 'clean meat' so many people say to me that it is disgusting, or 'unnatural'.

Some people just can't understand how anyone would eat it?

What many fail to understand is that 95 percent of all meat consumed in the Western world is produced on factory farms and nothing natural happens on a factory farm. Nothing.

Worst enemy

These are places where thousands of sentient feeling animals are crammed into tiny spaces, standing in their own feces and urine for months and months at a time.

They may be pumped full of drugs and antibiotics in horrific conditions so nightmarish you would not wish them on your own worst enemy.

Some do not see light, or breathe fresh air  for their entire lives - until the day they are taken to a slaughterhouse and killed.

Timeline

At the moment, clean meat is not available to consumers - but that could change soon.

Bruce Friedrich is the Co-founder and Executive Director of The Good Food Institute [GFI] - an nonprofit that promotes plant-based meat, dairy, and egg substitutes, as well as clean meat alternatives to the products of conventional animal agriculture.

He told me: "Multiple companies have already done tastings of a variety of different clean meat products. 

"It is not inconceivable that some people will be able to buy clean meat at a high-end restaurant within the next year or so. Scaling up production will take years longer, though."

Vegans

So looking at the systematic horror of the industrial farming complex, with clean meat on the horizon, should vegans support it, even though it is not vegan?

Clean meat is not vegan because it is cultured using cells from animals. In addition, some manufacturers use foetal bovine serum in the process, though some - for example food tech startup JUST - say they will not use it in products brought to market.

Paul Shapiro, author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, told me: "Clean meat isn't intended for vegans - it's real meat, after all.

"But vegans should support clean meat innovations since they can help animals, the planet, and public health - the three primary reasons people choose to become vegan in the first place."

'No discomfort'

Friedrich added: "Clean meat will cause no discomfort with animal treatment or slaughter. 

"There will be no fecal contamination or threat of food poisoning. Once we can offer people a product that is the same in terms of taste, price, and convenience, but without factory farms and slaughterhouses, people will be happy to align their choices with their ethics.

"Clean meat companies won’t have to do anything special – they will be giving consumers what they want. The general public recognizes that the way we produce meat today really is 'icky' and not something they want to support. 

"An Oklahoma State Food Demand Survey found that 47 percent of respondents want to ban slaughterhouses. 47 percent also support banning factory farming animals, and 68 percent said they had discomfort with the way animals are used in the food industry."

 

JUST Founder Josh Tetrick says clean meat chicken will hit the market this year

Environment

Cellular agriculture - the creation of clean meat - uses a fraction of the natural resources we need to produce flesh using standard animal agriculture practices.

So really what is more 'natural'? Abusing and torturing animals for their flesh, while simultaneously destroying our planet?

Or growing tissues in clean and hygienic labs without slaughtering billions of living beings at a lower environmental cost?

Sustainability

Speaking about the sustainability of clean meat - as well as guarantees consumers may seek in terms of the products impact, Shapiro says: "Clean meat is likely to be both safer and more sustainable than conventional meat today. 

"It's imperative that credible third parties (not just the manufacturers themselves) such as food safety, animal welfare, and environmental groups, help inform consumers of the benefits clean meat innovations offer. At scale, clean meat will be produced not in labs, but in breweries that really resemble beer breweries today.

"It seems likely that there'll be limited, symbolic commercialization of some clean animal products in the next year or so. I'd suggest that more meaningful commercialization in which these products will regularly be on store shelves is still years - though not decades - away."

The future

It is the future. And just like many other technologies that came before, people where initially afraid of them but then they where widely accepted.

And as my friend Khaled bin Alwaleed Alsaud says "It's time to resign factory farming to the dustbin of history..."

This technology could help us end it, forever.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

A design, media and communications specialist who co-produced short vegan film titled SWINE, before joining forces with Klaus Mitchell to co-found PBN in 2017. Through his work in the vegan sphere, Lockie has become a widely recognized animal advocate and public speaker - presenting on topics such as effective advocacy, and campaign theory. Robbie is the Creative & Operations Director of Plant Based News

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