Recent news broke that scientists have invented “slaughter-less meat.” You can finally eat meat without worrying about the animals slaughtered for the meat processing. Instead, the meat is grown in a lab.
But many people have questions about the new “lab-grown” meat. Will it really help save the planet?
What’s “Lab-Grown” Meat?
You might be asking, “What exactly is ‘lab-grown’ meat? Will it taste just as good as slaughtered meat?”
According to the BBC, scientists have been working on growing meat in a laboratory for decades. But they finally mastered it. Scientists at Just, a food company in San Francisco, California, grew meat from animal cells. The meat is grown in a cultured, synthetic, in-vitro, and clean environment. A protein acts as an enabler for the cells to multiply to grow into edible meat.
If you’re concerned about the taste, taste testers claimed the meat was just as crisp and flavorsome as other meats you would buy at the grocery store. Lab-grown meat might not taste quite like the chicken nuggets you can buy at McDonald’s or Burger King, but it’s pretty close.
There’s no reason why you should turn your nose up at the suggestion to eat “lab-grown” meat, scientists say.
Save The Planet
Considering animals won’t be slaughtered for lab-grown meat, will this help save the planet? That’s the question on many minds since news broke about the scientific discovery. Scientists all agree on one answer: Yes, it will save the planet.
According to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute, 54% of the Earth’s annual global carbon emissions are caused by raising livestock and related activities on farms. In addition, livestock consumes about eight percent of the planet’s valuable water supply. Scientists claim this is an “inefficient use of water.”
But we doubt farmers would enjoy hearing that their practices are harming the planet.
The Plans For Lab-Grown Meat
Seventy billion animals are slaughtered every year for commercial use. That’s a huge number, but lab-grown meat would help eliminate this “unnecessary” act.
Lab-grown meat would remove several steps in meat processing. For example, growing a meat-like substance would be similar to growing plants—completely harmless. Scientists would control the lab-grown, “cultured” meat, instead of farmers watering crops to then feed animals. Now farmers would only need to provide water to animals for survival.
Scientists are also acknowledging that growing meat in a lab would eliminate farmland required to raise cattle. According to The Guardian, the land that could be used for human life is instead occupied by farmers to produce meat.
How Long Before We Have This
Farmers are probably dreading the day when lab-grown meat is commercially popular and made available in restaurants and grocery supermarkets. But the time has come. Just executive Josh Tetrick guaranteed the company’s scientists are working around-the-clock to grow chicken and steak in a safe, clean environment.
Lab-grown meat could be on restaurant menus and in supermarkets as early as the end of the calendar year. Are you ready?
MORE: Why is this necessary? Is eating meat really that bad for the environment?
“Meatless Monday” has taken the world by storm. This popular trend, which is active in more than 40 countries, started with the intention of offsetting the negative impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. However, most people have yet to discover that eating meat may not actually be as bad for the environment as people claim.
Meat’s Effect On The Earth
Meat production has definitely taken its toll on the environment. It’s estimated that methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, from cattle accounts for 20 percent of the overall methane emissions in the United States. Also, nearly four-fifths of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest can be attributed to cattle ranching.
Livestock production also poses a problem for food availability. After all, those animals need to be fed something.
“If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” said David Pimental, an ecologist at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Pimental also notes that all of the livestock in the United States, a number which tops 7 billion, collectively eat five times the amount of grains than the entire United States population of 325 million people. To grow enough food to feed livestock, fertilizer, fuel, pesticides, water, and land are all needed. In fact, feeding all the livestock in the United States requires astronomical amounts of pesticides and fertilizer which produces copious amounts of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. This gas is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
A Case Against Vegetarianism
If eating meat is so bad for the environment, a vegetarian diet should solve everything, right?
The environmental impact of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle often goes overlooked. This is because many people fail to realize that you need to eat more fruits and vegetables to make up for the calories you would normally consume with meat.
Producing greater amounts of fruits and vegetables requires higher levels of energy and more water, all while contributing to more greenhouse gas emissions. Ironically, foods that may be healthy for us may not be doing the planet any favors.
“There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment,” said Michelle Tom, a researcher who has studied vegetarianisms effects on the environment. “What is good for us health-wise isn’t always what’s best for the environment. That’s important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Although there is conflicting evidence as to whether vegetarianism is better or worse for the environment, one diet is not going to solve the world’s problems.
“You can’t lump all vegetables together and say they’re good. You can’t lump all meat together and say it’s bad,” Paul Fischbeck, another researcher explains. “My bottom line is that there are no simple answers to complex problems. Diet and the environmental impact of agriculture … is not a simple problem.”
To reduce the environmental impact of growing our food, it all begins with being mindful of what we eat and how much of it we consume. Then, with further research, we can begin to shift our eating habits to help sustain our planet.