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Friday, September 2, 2011

Meat Grown in a Lab is Far Less Gross Than Meat Grown on a Factory Farm

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Maybe these two can help in the lab?
  • Maybe these two can help in the lab?

I saw this article on Swedish scientists synthesizing meat in a lab, and have a bit of a different take on it than my omnivorous colleague Jonathan Kauffman.

Where Kauffman sees grossness, I see opportunity. And a little grossness. But have you SEEN where meat from dead animals comes from? It's far less pleasant than a lab.

While the particular meat the Swedish scientists are synthesizing is not something I'd consider vegetarian (WTF is horse fetal serum? Because, eww) and I don't think I'd eat vat meat even if it were, I absolutely love the idea and very much hope that edible flesh comes out of it.

I don't think vegans and vegetarians would be the main market: I think it would be meat eaters who want an option that doesn't involve the taking of a life. I believe that science can bring to market a product that IS meat, and that people will see as a viable option.

I'm hopeful that people will eat the meat that was grown as opposed to the meat that was once a piglet who was ripped from his mom at birth, never allowed to see sunlight, fattened on corn until his limbs broke beneath him, and then dragged into a killing factory with his friends and family to die for some shitty Stouffer's pot roast. I want to believe that most people would make that choice. Humanity, please don't fail me! Again!

Some might (and do!) argue that humans are meant to eat meat, that we have an urge that's so innate it's a crime to ignore it. Acknowledging humans' predatory nature is one thing, but we must also acknowledge that how we get meat to the table in this country doesn't fulfill any of those supposed urges.

The vast majority of animals who are used for food are housed in terrifying, wasteful, foul and fucked-up factory farms. Ain't nothing natural about those places! They're horrifically abusive to animals (both the ones used for food and the humans who work there), create enormous environmental hazards like shit lagoons and massive amounts of methane, and soak up government subsidies better spent on healthy foods.

I mean, look at this chart that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine put together about what the USDA says we should be eating and the current allocations of government subsidies. I look at that and I get so angry! So damn angry! Aren't you angry?

click to enlarge Delicious Gardein in a delicious sandwich! - NO MEAT ATHLETE

Anyway, a little off topic, but the point is: Humans' predatory nature is not being acknowledged in our current food system at all.

Now, a story. One summer I taught at a conservation camp for pint-sized nature lovers and during lunch one day, a kid asked me why I needed a special lunch. I explained to her that I didn't eat meat because I don't want to eat animals. And she was like, "MEAT IS AN ANIMAL?" She didn't know! She thought meat came from Safeway.

And it's not just kids, we're so far removed from where our food comes from that most folks don't think about how anything ends up at their local grocers. When/if people do question these things, they either choose to live in denial, become a proselytising locavore, or become a proselytising vegetarian or vegan.

I went the vegan route because I know that if push came to shove, I couldn't kill an animal. And push hasn't come to shove -- I live in one of the richest cities in the world in terms of food, I don't HAVE to make that choice. So I don't!

I'm not sure most people are capable of hunting down and killing a cow, chicken, or pig. I like that saying, and I'm not sure who said it so I apologize for being shitty at Google, but it goes: If you put a human toddler in a pen with a rabbit and an apple, which does he eat?

Now, if you put a wolf cub in a pen with a rabbit and an apple, which does he eat? Humans are not obligate carnivores -- we can live long, healthy, happy, fulfilled lives without taking the lives of other living beings. If vat meat helps more people do that, I'm all for it! Until then, I'll stick to Gardein because that shiz is marvelous!

Laura Beck is a founding editor of Vegansaurus! and tweets at mrpenguino.

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