A guest post by Joshua March.
Why not do a blend with real meat instead, as a temporary substitute. Get the 5-20 percent of beef that is needed, and blend it with plants. That should cut down the beef need by eventually 60 or so percent, with any luck. Yes, it is not totally vegan, but it is a quick fix to solving a big problem, until the taste part can be solved.
I was thinking today it would be interesting to genetically engineer farm animals to reduce / eliminate any suffering involved, or to not be conscious somehow.
Just another way to avoid animal suffering, albeit a lot less efficient. If anyone wants to fund this idea, you know where to find me.
I would love to know the actual energy needs to "grow" either a plant (TVP) burger or a lab-meat burger. I have a hard time believing that they are actually a net positive compared with pastoral farming and grazing. Compared with industrial farming, perhaps, but traditional animal husbandry practices are extremely efficient.
If you really want to save the planet, I would suggest an energy intensive, lab grown meat substitute is the wrong way to go. Get a pig, feed it scraps and graze it on corn, and get yourself some bacon in 6-9 months. Chickens are also good. Their feed needs (for eggs at least) are minimal.
(And yes, I raise chickens and sheep. Not commercially, just for myself.)
I was disappointed not to see any mention of this article: https://thecounter.org/lab-grown-cultivated-meat-cost-at-scale/
The thing that kills cultivated meat, for me, is that you're eating cancer. Literally. These are cell lines that are "immortalized" - that keep dividing indefinitely. That's literally cancer. There's a whole zoo of euphemisms and alternative terminology but that's what it is.
It's not a safety issue at all. You have zero chance of getting cancer from it (well, no more than you would from eating regular meat). It's purely the ick-factor.
If cultured meat ever gets big, I think that issue will be a significant barrier to mainstream adoption. Ick factor risk can't be overstated when it comes to popular acceptance in the food market. Just look at what happened to GMOs.
I've been vegetarian for decades but I think I would switch back to meat if the only alternative to them was this kind of stuff... Cmon guys, this is food.
And it's also more expensive? F that. Wait to see the life-cycle analysis for energy use too. Not sure we can make that more efficient in a bioreactor than in a real animal.
And health uncertainties?
Traditional plant-based protein tastes good, is healthy, is cheap, is far more convenient than meat, is sustainable, prevents hunger in developing countries... You just need to know how to cook it. And that's not hard either, but you do need to know a few things. Would make more sense to have that cooking know-how widely shared, than have all these tech' "solutions". No incentive for private capital though, which is why public funds must come in - government paying for better knowledge on preparing beans and tofu. Why not? Government pays for dairies consumption and plenty such stuff all over the world.
This is all part of the Great Reset, but I guess some people really trust the WEF and other global outfits who only have our best interests at heart... I haven't eaten red meat for over 20 years, but that doesn't mean I am interested in eating stuff from a lab. Thanks, but no thanks!
Great guest post, thanks Joshua and Noah! The technical aspect of getting meat cells to stick to stuff went a bit fast for me, and I think taking slightly more space to explain this would have helped me better understand. Would be interested in a follow-up somewhere in the future!
What fascinates me is where this could go, say, 50 or 100 years from now.
Replicating the taste of meat is one thing (and hard enough!), but I suspect there are vast reaches of the "taste space" that evolution has never touched.
The first step into that space may be hybrid tastes, like lamb-beef or meat-vegetable crossovers. But eventually I'd hope we can get entirely novel flavours, so that food becomes a far richer arena of human creativity than it is now.
You could argue that our taste evolved to identify a limited set of chemicals, but surely there are enough variables, including the 5 flavour elements plus all the range of scents and textures, for a pretty huge space of possibilities.
I remain unconvinced that getting people to eat cultivated meat will be any more successful than getting people to eat less meat in general. I favor committing more resources (advocacy, education) to the latter as it is much more palatable to most people, pun intended.
The problem is that in order to get people to switch over from real meat to fake meat, it cannot just be almost as good and/or kinda look like real meat. It needs to be BETTER and identical. Oh, and cheaper too. The reality is that people like meat. They really like it. They also hate change, and for people to force them to change when they don’t want to. As we can see with pretty much every issue, moral arguments do not work.
Rushing to market with products that are over-hyped but do not deliver creates bankruptcies and sets back movements. Teslas gained traction because they were cool, fast and comfortable. They are meeting the hype, but we don’t really know if charging will work, if it will scale, and if people will give up their gasoline machines. Sounds like the fake meat industry isn’t even close to meeting the hype, and there is no promise that it will create a better product. Just a lot of hope.
I understood from a professor emeritus here in Sweden that a large proportion of people - 40% or so of 16 year old girld, over 60% of nursing home residents, both men and women, etc. - are deficient in iron.
And that the heme in artificial meat is not an accessible iron source for humans.
That implies that artificial meat does not have the health benefits of meat.
Great guest post. I don't know enough about the science behind cultured meat and genetic engineering to have any reasonable opinion on that. Just two things.
One, it is extremely funny to me that some people refuse to eat meat grown in a lab because it is unnatural. Well, everything we eat is already unnatural. Humans have been genetically modifying food for millenia. Indeed, that's one of the principal reasons some civilizations advanced faster. Pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, etc, all of those things are 'unnatural', and they are vital in every agricultural system across the world. This naturalistic fallacy, that something is good merely because it is from nature, has got to go.
Secundo, I don't really see a viable pathway here. Meat, at the end of the day, is a commodity, which means you will have extremely thin profit margins. When you factor in all the technology costs for cultivating meat and the fact that the organic meat industry is sponsored by heavy subsidies plus all the marketing costs to make cultivated meat seem cool, rough calculations indicate serious losses for a considerable period of time. Can that storm be weathered long enough to achieve mainstream adoption. The odds don't look good.
Thanks for this guest post, which does seem encouraging. I've switched to a diet of plant-based 'mince' (the format that works best for taste/texture) and 'ethical' beef (slaughtered at very low scale, in the cattle's own field, avoiding live animal transportation). Both reatively expensive but somewhat better for me, personally. Watching this area with great hope.
It's not Beef ..Quit calling it that.Its plant based food like Solent Green.
Perhaps it would be easier to grow a fat mixture whose profile is equivalent to that of beaf using conventional bacterial/yeast type bioreactors, then blend these fats with vegi proteins...