The Other Whitish Meat

It's not the first time I've heard of this stuff, but it's the first time I've heard anyone get really excited about it. William Saletan can't wait for us to start eating fake meat. Well, fake, not fake exactly, more like semi-real, or mostly unreal, or entirely disgusting. Agriscientists would stick some muscle cells on a collagen matrix and fire up the grill. The original paper puts it this way: "these cells fuse into myotubes, which can then differentiate into myofibers. The resulting myofibers may then be harvested, cooked, and consumed as meat."

No word on whether meatpulpproduct is best consumed rare or medium rare.

If a bunch of lab rats want to play around with meatslime, power to 'em. And if it ends up being a way to take a compact protein source on long space journeys, or if McDonald's makes MSG-laced meatslime burgers in 2050, well, okay. What they're serving now isn't much different.

But Saletan calls lab-grown meat "the moral calling of our age," not unlike abolition or giving women the vote. We'll be able to grow a disease- and fat-free hamburger. Cows will be freed from bondage and standing on the bread line, and the land they inhabited will be returned to its natural state, clean and unfouled.

There are lots of logical arguments to be made against his (ahem) unpalatable position, and then there's my knee-jerk reaction: It just sounds so totally gross.

2 Responsesto “The Other Whitish Meat”

  1. Man of La Muncha says:

    Saletan discusses the moral reasons for pursuing fake meat (Don't hurt the horsey!), but he could spend more time on the practical reasons. Growing meat in a lab could result in the closure of stockyards, the end of inhumane slaughtering practices, and the increase of food supplies to meet the needs of the projected 9 billion people who will inhabit the planet by 2050.

    There's also a strong chance that social inequities would increase, with 'lab meat' (or "McMeaties", to borrow from a cartoon) reserved for all but the wealthy few who could pay several thousand dollars for the privilege of eating meat grown on the old-fashioned way.

    I agree with your knee-jerk assessment. Fake meat reminds me of the processed vegetable protein burgers served at school cafeterias. I don't trust anyone to produce fake food without ill effects, whether to the environment (what do they use to grow fake meat?) or our health (do people remember the olestra debacle?). There is too much evidence against the belief in scientifically produced foods to accept fake meat outright.

  2. Anastasia Bodnar says:

    Meat in general is sort of disgusting - but I don't see how this stuff is any different from Quorn. It would be nice if all animals were raised sustainably ala Polyface Farm, but it's not realistic. If vat meat is the alternative to CAFOs, I'm all for it.