It’s not news that conventional ways of producing meat lead to incredible environmental damage. The production of both livestock and the feed needed to raise them require vast amounts of natural resources, including water, fossil fuels and topsoil. Another victim of industrial meat production is biodiversity: “55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed to make every fast-food hamburger made from rainforest cattle…with each square foot of rainforest gone, up to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species and dozens of bird, mammal and reptile species are destroyed” (1). Regardless of the ecosystem where meat production takes place, it consumes natural resources and produces pollution.
In-vitro meat, or meat tissue that is grown in a lab, has the potential of appeasing both the animal welfare and environmental concerns associated with eating meat. Cutting edge technology recently led to the creation of a 5 oz hamburger from cultured beef muscle tissue, with more advances expected on the horizon (2). Using cells from a cow at the slaughterhouse, technicians grew the tens of billions of cells necessary to make the hamburger.
A study on the potential environmental impacts of cultured meat compared to existing meat production practices concludes that cultured meat involves substantially lower energy use, lower greenhouse gases, lower land use and lower water use than conventionally produced meat (3). However the question remains, what lengths are we willing to go to consume meat at the current rates? Are people willing to accept what is often called “shmeat” as real food?
Not ready for shmeat? Rather reduce your consumption? Join Oakland on their Meatless Mondays!
By Mika Weinstein, OFPC Intern
– See more at: http://www.oaklandfood.org/blog/entry/3688180/shmeat#sthash.gkN3rRvL.dpuf