The growing global demand for meat has increased exponentially with our increasing population. The meat industry is undeniably unsustainable. To adapt to the growing needs of nations, intensive farming conditions have provided awful conditions for animals and the value of animal life has been disregarded for the meat-consuming lifestyles humans have adopted.
Not only does intensive farming have devastating impacts for the animals involved, the meat industry is a huge contributor to humanity’s environmental footprint, accounting for up to 18 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.
Similarly, animals reared in intensive farming conditions are pumped with antibiotics to alleviate their ill-health traits caused by inbreeding. These antibiotics are being leached into the water supply and are contributing to global antibiotic resistance, a worrisome consideration when you envisage how many lives antibiotics have saved.
Projections have shown that by 2050 global meat production will have doubled from 1999 levels and calls for more sustainable lifestyle choices have been echoed far and wide. Many people argue that vegetarianism isn’t just a moral choice for the sanctity of animal life; it’s an ethical choice that protects the people on the planet too.
If people won’t reduce the amount of meat consumed, alternatives must be developed hard and fast, and this is where artificial lab grown meat comes in.
Dutch researchers have been working for the past nine years to grow meat out of stem cells, first creating ‘mouse burgers’ out of mouse stem cells in 2013. Their aim is to make the lab-grown meat available in stores by 2020, a mere five years away.
Peter Verstrate, the head of the firm behind the lab-grown burger meat, said to the BBC, “I feel extremely excited about the prospect of this product being on sale. I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons.”
Food critics were invited to review the prototype artificial burger, they summarised that although it was close to meat, it was not as juicy and soft as the real deal.
The prototype burger cost a total of £215,000 to make, so whilst the technology doesn’t exactly look monetarily sustainable for now, lots of work will be done to whittle down costs and perfect the product in time to shape the future of the meat industry.