Nearly 60% of all greenhouse gasses released during food production are a result of meat production. In fact, meat production accounts for double the pollution of plant-based foods. Despite meat’s undoubtedly negative impacts on the climate, meat is firmly rooted in people’s diets all over the world. If so, many are unwilling or unable to give up meat in their diet, how can we find a way to make meat production a little greener?
One potential solution is lab-grown meat. But what is it, and why exactly is conventional meat bad? Is lab-grown meat really more sustainable than conventional? Let’s take a closer look.
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What Is Lab-Grown Meat?
Lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat or clean meat, is meat produced in a laboratory from animal cells. Unlike traditional methods of raising animals for meat, lab-grown meat does not require the slaughter of animals. Instead, it uses cell culture techniques to grow animal cells into muscle tissue. This tissue can then be used to make products such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and sausage.
Lab-grown meat is not currently widely available for commercial sale, but several companies are working on bringing it to market. If successful, lab-grown meat could potentially provide a more sustainable and humane alternative to traditional meat production. It could also reduce our reliance on antibiotics, as cultured meat is not susceptible to the same diseases as livestock. However, challenges remain, such as reducing the cost of production and ensuring that lab-grown meat is safe and nutritious.
Why Is Conventional Meat Bad?
Conventional meat is bad for several reasons. First, it is typically produced on factory farms that frequently mistreat the animals. Animals such as cows and chickens are often kept in cramped, dirty conditions and may even undergo forced impregnation or unsafe, painful operations.
Second, factory farms pollute the environment. They produce a large amount of animal waste, contaminating air and water. The USDA places United States greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture at 10.5% of the total GHG burden. Farms also use large amounts of antibiotics, leading to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Third, factory-farmed meat is often unhealthy. The animals eat an unnatural diet of corn and soy, which makes them sick. They are also given growth hormones to make them grow faster, which can cause health problems in humans. Factory-farmed meat tends to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also often treated with chemicals, such as nitrates and bleaches, which can be harmful to your health. In summary, there are many good reasons to avoid conventional meat: it is bad for the animals, the environment, and your health.
Is Lab-Grown Meat More Sustainable Than Conventional?
The debate over the sustainability of lab-grown meat is one that is likely to continue for some time. While there are some clear benefits to producing meat in a controlled environment, there are also some significant challenges that need to be addressed.
One of the main advantages of lab-grown meat is that it can be produced without large amounts of land and water. As per the World Bank, 70% of freshwater goes into agriculture. Lab-grown meat’s water efficiency is important because the demand for meat is expected to increase in the coming years, and traditional methods of production are simply not sustainable.
In addition, lab-grown meat does not require the use of antibiotics, which can have a negative impact on human health. However, one of the main challenges facing lab-grown meat is the cost. Currently, it is significantly more expensive to produce than conventional meat, and it is unclear whether this cost will come down in the future.
There are a few arguments against lab-grown meat that must be taken into consideration. First, lab-grown meat has not yet been adequately tested for safety. The fact that the companies behind the lab-grown meat effort are related to some of the biggest business interests in the world is a cause for concern and discourse. In addition, sustainable food alternatives such as regenerative agriculture can provide natural, healthy food to billions of people worldwide without the high costs of growing meat in a lab It may be more sustainable overall to simply reduce our reliance on meat in favor of other more sustainable protein sources.
Keeping an open mind is a prudent stance to take on sustainability issues. Perhaps lab-grown meat will provide a nourishing, plentiful source of food for the world. In the meantime, it’s important to hold food industry stakeholders accountable by demanding compliance with healthy and ethical best practices. Looking for food safety and sustainability certifications such as BRCGS can let consumers know that they are supporting quality food while ensuring their health is protected.
Being responsible consumers also entails looking out for agriculture workers. This includes ensuring they receive fair wages and work under humane conditions. It’s our responsibility to champion animal rights and encourage practices and behaviors that remove pain and suffering. By doing some research and taking mindful action, we can steer the world’s food industry down a more ethical, sustainable path.