There are a variety of reasons why people chose to become a vegan or vegetarian. Myself, well I am a vegetarian and have been for 22 years now… and no, it really doesn’t feel that long… I’m 34 by the way!
The reasons people chose what is still seen as a pretty dramatic change are usually down to health, religion, ethical, environment or animal welfare concerns. My quandary is now that meat can and is being grown in labs across the world, meaning that there is a potential for the animal welfare concerns to diminish entirely (once stem cell samples are collected of course).
Stem cells are the body’s magic cells, the templates from which any specialised tissue, such as nerve or skin cells, develop. Along with trying to create an affordable food source, many institutes are creating human tissue to assist with transplants. Starting with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissues, these cells are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals so they develop and multiply. Three weeks later there are more than a million stem cells, which amalgamate into small strips of muscle. After these are collected they are compacted into a burger patty shape before being cooked as usual. The burgers are then coloured with something like beetroot or they would be entirely white.
So, as a vegetarian, would a burger grown by a scientist in a high-tech lab be a potential food source or would it still be deemed as being against your beliefs?
The technology is thought to be a sustainable way of meeting the growing demand for meat. Feedback from people who have eaten these grown burgers is mixed with some saying the texture is the same but the meat tastes somewhat different.
With 1.4 billion people in the world being overweight or obese, there are sadly still more than one billion people who will go to bed hungry tonight. I can see the benefits from the point of view that raising cattle is expensive and difficult and this could be a viable alternative.
Plenty of people I’ve spoken to find the idea of ‘grown’ lab meat repulsive but I have to wonder if they saw what went on at a farm or in a slaughterhouse to create ‘normal’ meat whether this might change their mind. I am vegetarian as I have a strong love of animals and find the whole process of farming animals for meat barbaric. This is my personal view though and I certainly don’t judge anyone for their choices, I just wish that everyone knew more about what they eat and what happens to it before it reaches their plate so they could make a truly informed decision.
Lab grown meat could be the end of lots of unpleasantness, the transportation of stressed animals in lorries to their deaths, abattoirs and factory farming, as well as reducing carbon emissions, conserving water and making the food supply safer.
As for whether I would eat lab grown meat, I wouldn’t, personally. I wouldn’t want to think that anything had died for me to eat, even if that was one animal decades ago. Having spoken to other vegetarians, some have said they would eat the meat as they miss meat and have only stopped due to animal and environmental concerns.
Could we see a new breed of vegetarians?