Several companies have announced that they are almost ready to bring lab-grown meat products to the market, which could be as early as this year. As reported by Wired, companies such as Just and Finless Foods have reached the point where growing meat in laboratories has become cost-effective enough that it can soon be introduced into the market. The companies don’t necessarily want to completely stop people from eating animals, but they are instead giving people an alternative if they don’t want to experience the guilt associated with the consumption of meat products.
Scientists at Just have reportedly grown duck liver meat, or foie gras, by incubating liver cells and feeding it nutrients for it to multiply and grow. The company is reportedly also creating cultured chorizo and even lab-grown chicken nuggets. A handful of cells taken from animals can produce vast amounts of meat under the right conditions, essentially letting scientist grow an “unlimited amount” of meat from just a small sample. Startup companies such as Finless Foods are also pursuing alternatives to the old-fashioned way of acquiring meat by offering so-called “clean meat.”
Growing meat inside laboratories does have a lot of advantages. For one, growing foie gras in vats is probably more ethical when compared to force-feeding ducks or geese until their livers expand to abnormal sizes. This also applies to beef and other types of meat that requires vast farms and the unnecessary consumption of resources.
In the United States, people consume more than 26 billion pounds of beef each year. This translates to 11,000 gallons of water used per year. The millions of cows grown worldwide are also estimated to contribute more than 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Most livestock grown for consumption are also subjected to very harsh conditions such as cramped accommodations and poor sanitation.
While the notion of having “clean meat” without the associated guilt of having killed an animal to acquire it may be justifiable economically and ethically, having people accept it as part of their lives is an entirely different issue. It has yet to be seen if people would actually accept lab-grown meat or prefer meat from traditional sources. Whatever the case may be, lab-grown meat is coming, and it may be on supermarket shelves sooner than you expect.