We wear synthetic fur. We eat synthetic flavouring. Why not synthetic meat?
I am an absolute carnivore so I don’t have a problem eating meat, however perhaps if I made a trip down to the meat-works I might feel differently. For those that feel guilt eating away at them as they have just done to a poor little cow or baby lamb then synthetic meat might be an actuality in the near future. Guilt free, juicy steaks for everyone!
Synthetic meat is meat grown in a lab from a sample of stem cells, cells that have the potential to become more than one type of tissue, that are encouraged to mature into muscle cells and effectively becoming an edible piece of meat. Sounds a bit sci-fi doesn’t it? But it has been achieved. The technology to be able to grow little pieces of cow has been around for a while now however it has never taken off as a possibility for commercial sale. The “steaks” are higher now and the potential is increasing.
Why do we need to make synthetic meat when the super markets are always stocked with meat for us to buy? The primary reasons currently are environmental and moral. The meat farming industry has copped a lot of flack in recent years for its contribution to greenhouse gases and mistreatment of animals but in actuality that is just the consequence of the demand. Not only does the industry cause pollution but also in order to provide the human race with the amount of meat we are consuming currently we must kill 1,600 farm animals every second plus the enormous amount of fish and shellfish. The amount of land it takes to farm livestock is another aspect to account for. It is 7 times the amount of land used for crops and land is going to be hard to come by with future population projections.
There is a reason that you have yet to taste or see one of these faux frankfurters though. It’s the complexity of meat that creates its flavour; the muscle fibers, the blood vessels, nerves, layers of fat and hundreds of natural chemicals that are produced by the cow when alive. Encouraging stem cells to grow into this complex structure is hard and completely mind blowing to me. Another factor to consider is although we hate the thought of killing animals our kind have been killing them since the beginning whereas we have never created meat in labs. The fear of the unknown is always going to be a problem to overcome in making synthetic meat commercially available.
So although these frankensteaks may be better for the planet and more sustainable it may be a while before they appear on our dinner plates.