According to NPR, Americans currently consume more meat per capita than any other nation on earth, and lab-grown meat may increase these numbers. Despite this, many environmentalists have praised the concept of lab-grown meat due to its potential to reduce greenhouse emissions by an astounding 96 percent.
In other words, people could continue indulging in meat in large quantities without the fear of contributing to global climate change. This so-called “clean meat” may also change the face of vegetarianism by removing ethical concerns.
What is Lab-Grown Meat?
The term lab-grown meat may conjure up images of an experimental, Frankenstein-type process. In reality, though, food scientists perform a biopsy on living livestock to extract stem cells. Next, these stem cells are given several weeks to grow in a laboratory environment. The end result is real meat that doesn’t come with the ethical complications of animal slaughter.
How Will Lab-Grown Meat Help the Environment?
Per the Washington Post, global livestock accounts for almost 15 percent of all carbon emissions. You could combine every form of transportation on the planet, including cars, airplanes, ships, and trains, and you still wouldn’t get as many carbon emissions as those that are directly related to the meat industry.
Even more disturbing is the massive amount of water and food that’s needed to sustain livestock. Raising livestock for beef uses 48-times more water than growing a comparable amount of vegetables.
Will Lab-Grown Meat Reduce Health Concerns?
Lab-grown meat is still real meat; it just doesn’t require the typical butchering process to go from the original source to your plate. In other words, there haven’t been any studies that have shown any change in the health levels of this meat. This may be a significant stumbling block because many people who choose to adopt a vegetarian diet do so for health reasons.
The University of Oxford conducted a study that discovered the world could save $730 billion in healthcare costs if everyone reduced their meat consumption. In the U.S. alone, the savings would be almost $179 billion. This is because meat, and particularly red meat, has been conclusively linked to a long list of health complications.
The study also concluded that cutting out red meat would save up to 8 million lives during the next 32 years, and it would reduce global climate change damage expenses by $1.5 trillion.
That being said, the famous filmmaker, actor and comedian Kevin Smith, best known for his portrayal of Silent Bob in Clerks, suffered from a massive heart attack last weekend. The Independent reported that Smith is now committed to following a vegetarian diet to improve his health. Even if lab-grown meat was available today, eating it wouldn’t help Smith meet his new health goals.
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig! Home is where the heart is and the heart is feeling good! It’s actually getting more blood flow and oxygen than it has in a long time. So I am ALERT, to say the least! Thank you for all the kind words, folks - from Vegetarian Kev, Day 2! pic.twitter.com/zLbwzx7Exq— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) February 28, 2018
When Will Lab-Grown Meat Be Available?
Industry experts vary significantly in their opinion of when you’ll be able to try lab-grown meat for the first time. The CEO of JUST, Josh Tetrick, expects to have the first wave of clean meat in restaurants by the end of 2018. A representative from Mosa Meat believes this is overly optimistic and doesn’t anticipate being able to sell “clean meat” for at least three more years. Either way, lab-grown meat is clearly on the horizon, and it may soon change the way you eat.