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Is lab-grown meat a good alternative?

As I was researching into the famous clone sheep, Dolly, I came across the idea of lab-grown meat, which then made me wonder whether it would be a good alternative when it comes to meat-eating. My initial idea of lab-grown meat was literally growing meat out of a laboratory, meaning all it takes and needs would be a part from an animal which then leads to the development of the meat.

Let’s get into it. What exactly is lab-grown meat?

Laboratory-grown meat, also known as cultured meat, is produced and grown outside of an animal’s body. Cells will be taken from biopsies of live animals which are then grown into masses of cells. Then, they slowly form into the size of the meat we see in the supermarket, i.e. beef patties. The idea of lab-grown meat might not be popular and cheap enough to be sold around the world at the moment, but so far, samples from animals such as chicken, rabbits, ducks, even tuna, have been taken into labs in attempts to recreate parts of their bodies. Most recently, Singapore has made their historic landmark of selling lab-grown chicken meat.

Singapore was the first country in the world to sell lab-grown meat. The Singapore Food Agency approved the San Francisco-based startup, Eat Just, for the sale of its lab-grown chicken meat last year. The company is famous for its plant-based JUST Egg, and now, not only have they marked a huge milestone, but also have opened up a new door for people to view the concept of meat differently. Even though it is not commercially available, it is certainly a good first step in the world to influence others and for them to learn more about lab-grown meat. Besides offering an opportunity for an alternative variation of meat in the meat industry, it also starts a whole variation of the conventional meat industry. Hopefully, more countries will follow this new trend and use this innovative idea as a meat alternative, too.

Eat Just chicken nuggets photo from BBC Business News

"We've been eating meat for many hundreds, thousands of years, always needing to kill an animal to eat -- until now," Josh Tetrick, Co-founder and CEO of Eat Just said to CNN Business.

While lab-grown meat might be considered a more ethical meat alternative as it is produced in a lab but not on a farm, lab-grown meat is still “real” meat since the cell that develops the final product is from an animal, just without cutting the flesh off from an animal. Hence, resulting in the numbers of animals slaughtered will be reduced. But, we must not forget that the production of lab-grown meat still needs animal lives in order to have their cells, which means it still requires the use of animals. Therefore, lab-grown meat cannot be claimed as vegan which understandably results in many animal lovers and vegans/vegetarians opposing the idea.

“Currently, about 130 million chickens and 4 million pigs are slaughtered every day for meat. By weight, 60% of the mammals on earth are livestock, 36% are humans and only 4% are wild”, according to The Guardian. Therefore, I hope more countries will use lab-grown meat as a meat alternative because I believe it is a positive move in this meat-eating dominated world where animal suffering can be reduced and less lives will be killed during production. This small change together will lead to something big. However, cells and tissues do not live and reproduce forever. In order to have an ongoing lab-grown meat supply, we should keep in mind that a constant or certain amount of live animals is needed to take cells from, which leads me to think that there is a high possibility of animal abuse to reach this goal.

Afterall, a better and best solution to help make this planet Earth a better place is to reduce meat consumption by adopting a plant-based diet. We all know there are plenty of meat replacements out there - not just lab-grown alternatives - such as Beyond Meat, Impossible meat and Omnipork. And as always, you don’t have to switch to veganism overnight, but start by being a part-time vegan. What matters is your effort to change. And, if you’re looking for a reason to go vegan, check out one of our articles, Why go vegan? would definitely help.

Written by Cissy So

Edited by Chandni Sacheti


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