A couple of months ago, Singapore was announced to be the first country where people will soon be able to purchase lab meat.
The vegan community rushed to celebrate the news by saying that this is the beginning of animal exploitation’s end as well as animal agriculture’s end – obviously without having done any research on how this meat is produced.
Before presenting here the relevant information that can be found in the scientific literature online, I would like to state the following simple thing: This meat will never be an ethical alternative, since it’s based on animal exploitation so it’s not aligned to veganism’s values and definition so it really makes me wonder why this technological evolution is talked so much by the vegan community as something positive and celebrated.
It doesn’t need more than common sense in order for someone to understand that the production of that meat needs a biopsy to be conducted on some non human animals. Thus, animal exploitation is not going to be over but it will be perpetuated instead. Additionally, all these people ignore the fact that this biopsy is something painful as they also must ignore their captivity. The conversation though should not even go to that extension. When you are antispeciesist and vegan, you are fighting for the end of the exploitation of non human animals whatsoever, not for their better living conditions (as no humanitarian activist ever fought for better life conditions for slaves – the fight was for the abolition of slavery).
Lab meat is perpetuating also the idea of non human animals being a commodity. It is eliminating their inherent value and depersonalizing them.
In regards to the production: All labs that work on that domain, in order to promote the growth of these cultured cells, it is required to use “fetal bovine serum” (FBS), which is a key component of the standard culture medium used in biotech labs all over the world and this requires (the following sentense is graphic) slaughtering a pregnant cow and draining blood from the heart of its live, un – anesthetized fetus (Roheim et al. 2016).
When it comes to chicken lab meat, FBS cannot be completely replaced by chicken serum since the foetal environment from which the FBS is derived is rich in growth factors (Horiuchi et al. 2006).
If there is one community that can applause this technological evolution it’s the environmentalist since lab meat’s producion requires 99% less land use and 82-96 % lower water as well as it will produce 78-96% less greenhouse gas emissions, than animal agriculture today (Τuomisto & Teixeira de Mattos, 2011).
However there is a more recent research which shows that in the long term, the lab meat industry may have bigger environmental impact than animal agriculture’s (Mattick et al., 2015). Because researches as this one are taking into account some parameters like the energy cost of this industry.
Additionally, the promotion of the cells in a lab need to be in sterilized environment. The sterilisation is achieved by the constant use of single use plastics. Some stuff can be from stainless steel and these can be sterilised with steam but that requirs some energy. And the list goes on…
All this reminds me Impossible burger’s promotion by vegan activists – a plant based burger that for its production 188 rats had to suffer (animal testing). Nevertheless, many vegans said that these 188 rats were sacrificed in order to rescue billion of cows in the future. Zero logic.
This is a great example of how green capitalism is destroying veganism and maybe it’s time to dissociate for real antispeciesism and veganism.
Horiuchi, H., S. Furusawa, & H. Matsuda. (2006). Maintenance of Chicken Embryonic Stem Cells in Vitro. Embryonic Stem Cell Protocols: Volume 1: Isolation and Characterization 1: 17–34.
Mattick, Carolyn S., Landis, Amy E., Allenby, Braden R., Genovese, Nicholas J. (2015). Anticipatory Life Cycle Analysis of In Vitro Biomass Cultivation for Cultured Meat Production in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology
Rorheim, A., Mannino, A., Baumann, T., & Caviola, L. (2016). Cultured meat: An ethical alternative to industrial animal farming. Sentience Politics, 1-14.
Tuomisto, Hanna L. & Teixeira de Mattos, M. Joost (2011). Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(14), 6117–6123.