Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You Can Take Meat Out of the Animal, but You Can't Take the Animal Out of Meat

I often hear myself saying that just because technology can make some things possible doesn’t mean it should. Atomic bombs, sperm banks, and cloning immediately come to mind. Technology now dominates most of our lives and food is no exception.

The human population, which is growing faster than ever, doubled over the last 45 years and is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Feeding such an enormous population is a great concern, especially when hunger continues to be a world-wide problem for some 870 million people.

Producing meat and dairy is grossly inadequate, extremely energy intensive and requires vast amounts of natural resources that a growing population cannot afford nor sustain. For example, raising animals for food uses 30 percent of the Earth's land mass, uses 11 times more fossil fuel and 96 times more gallons of water than plant protein. Moreover, plant protein could eradicate hunger. If the grain grown in the U.S. to feed livestock was fed directly to people it could fill 800 million hungry bellies. 

Even business executives recognize the enormous costs of producing meat and dairy. According to VegNews, WhiteWave Chairman and CEO Gregg Engles (makers of Silk non-dairy milk products) told financial analysts that "the plant-based model is a lower-cost model because the cow is a relatively inefficient converter of grain into protein."

Quite simply, besides being cruel, unhealthy, and costly, meat is unsustainable. The obvious solution is a vegan diet. Unfortunately, the world is slow to grasp this, which is why venture capitalists and techies have devised a way to spend lots of money and waste lots of time developing cultured meat.

Also known as in-vitro meat, lab meat, and test tube meat; cultured meat uses "three-dimensional bioprinting" from a bloody concoction of animal stem cells to generate thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. The process is not simple nor without the need for flesh, keeping animals enslaved to our carnistic belief system that maintains that it is normal, natural and necessary for us to eat them. Here’s how it works:

Proponents of cultured meat believe this is a positive step in the right direction as it will result in fewer animals being slaughtered. They say it will also mean 96 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 99 percent less land use, 96 percent less water use, and 45 percent less energy use compared to traditional animal farming. While this sounds promising, it also requires a willing public, animal cells, and money. It cost $330,000 just to produce one small patty for a recent taste test.

Delicious, animal-free, cholesterol-free, inexpensive, plant-based alternatives are already here. Even Mark Bittman, renowned food journalist for the New York Times, admitted to being "fooled badly" by chicken-free strips made by Beyond Meat.

If eating a hamburger grown in a lab sounds disgusting, it's no more disgusting than eating a hamburger made out of the flesh of a tortured and abused animal. Consuming animal flesh is still cruel, still unhealthy and still unsustainable regardless whether that flesh is manipulated by Dr. Frankenstein in a laboratory or seized from others at slaughterhouses. If cultured meat takes off, it will undoubtedly save many lives and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it will not stop our destructive and gluttonous addiction for animal products.

We don't need lab meat; we don't need meat, period! The answer has been around for thousands of centuries—plants!

"How Cultured Meat Works." VegNews July/August 2013: page 26. Print.

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