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Social issues

Cultured meat – the future?

– by Rachel Yeo

 

What if you were told that you could eat meat, guilt-free, without harming animals?

You’d shake your head and think it too idealistic, but in actual fact, it’s not as far removed from reality as you might think.

Allow me to introduce Supermeat – an organisation dedicated to developing a system for cultured meat production. And get this, it’s real meat. (Yep, that’s right. 100% meat.)

When it comes to meat consumption, there are diverse ends of the spectrum, ranging from meat-eaters to vegans/vegetarians, with all the opposing moral forces in between. It’s definitely not commonplace to find a way to resolve such a dilemma.

Yet, cultured meat presents itself as a clear alternative, and could be an immense step towards resolving a heavily debated ethical dilemma – meat at the price of animal cruelty. No one along the meat to no-meat eating spectrum needs to compromise any more.

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Though the notion of cultured meat has been around for some time, Supermeat is on the fast track to becoming viral. Cultured meat is not comprised of plant-based substitutes, or made of soy; it is truly is the same as any other kind of meat consumed today. Cultured meat production basically achieves the same outcome as the meat livestock industry without animal suffering, or detrimental effects on the environment.

In comparison to traditional meat, cultured meat demands substantially less water, land, and energy to produce. As a result, it is less energy wasting, and emits less greenhouse gases than the livestock industry.

For a better understanding of this potentially groundbreaking alternative, I spoke to Shir Friedman, VP of marketing and spokesperson for Supermeat, who has also been a biologist and vegan for 11 years.

 

What makes cultured meat different from the meat we eat today?

Supermeat will be animal friendly, eco-friendly and better yet, even healthier to consume. This is because cultured meat is, in fact, not genetically modified, but natural and safe. It won’t contain salmonella, or any antibiotics, hormones, and arsenic compounds – otherwise associated with keeping animals ‘pandemic-free’ in the livestock industry.

 

What is the process behind the production of cultured meat?

Cultured meat is derived from a single cell sample taken from a [living] chicken… That natural cell sample is thereon grown in optimum conditions into a fully developed muscle tissue, which is eventually the meat that we find in supermarkets today.

Where will be in 50 years if we stick with our harm-inducing habits of the livestock industry?

How was the concept of Supermeat conceived, and how long has it been in the making?

Cultured meat is an idea that was around for about a decade or so, but SuperMeat’s co-founder, Professor Yaakov Nahmias from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a world-renowned expert in the field of tissue culturing.

As of now, the product is in its development, and has to undergo the laboratory stage first. If this appears off-putting, it is important to note that any food that we eat – be it plant-based or animal-derived – underwent, at some point of its history, the laboratory stage: to improve its texture, flavour and shelf life. Cultured meat is no different. Eventually, it will be made in machines in factories and breweries.

 

If enough people are willing to get on board to support Supermeat, will it be as affordable?

It will most likely be more affordable than traditional meat products. It will cost anywhere from $1 to $5 per kilo – we are expected to hit the market in five years.

 

What do you have to say to those still in doubt?

I understand the doubt since it’s an idea that, to an outsider, sounds like science fiction. But imagine if somebody told you 20 years ago that you would have a machine at the palm of your hand that tells you where to go to avoid traffic. Any new technology sounds weird in the beginning, but this is something that will change the world for the better.

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Whether we choose to turn a blind eye or not, the reality is that animals are being confined for the profit of the meat and dairy industries. And when these animals are reduced to numbers, and when these numbers become mere statistics reflecting humankind’s exertion upon our earth, it’s time to reconsider. Where will be in 50 years if we stick with our harm-inducing habits of the livestock industry?

We’d be struggling as a planet, that’s for sure – with centuries of ecocidal aftermath, which will prove to be even more difficult to erase.

Supermeat is set to take the world by storm – and so it should, for all the right reasons. This probes the one final question: what do we have to lose?

 

Photos courtesy of Supermeat.Co

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