Why You May Soon Be Eating Meat Grown in a Lab

Why You May Soon Be Eating Meat Grown in a Lab

For decades, animal activist Paul Shapiro didn’t lay a fork on meat or any dairy products. Yet exactly one year ago this month, Shapiro (at the time the vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States) got a taste of something he couldn’t resist – a very special kind of foie gras, or fatty duck liver. What made this meat so unique and irresistible? The duck liver had been grown in a laboratory from avian starter cells taken from a duck in a quick and painless muscle biopsy procedure. Cellular agriculture, as the process is called, grows real meat in a lab without any need for animal slaughter. Much to Shapiro’s surprise and embarrassment, he loved feasting on the meat.   

Clean animal products are the future of meat

Foie gras, a delicacy that relies on the forced feeding of ducks, can cause suffering and even death to the animals. Yet growing foie gras in labs removes the pain and hardship for the animals, while radically altering the food supply for humans. And it’s not just foie gras that can be lab-derived. There are many other so-called clean animal products that are on their way to supermarket shelves in the near future including clean beef (Hampton Creek and Memphis Meats), clean egg whites (Clara Foods), and even clean leather for clothing and accessories (Modern Meadow).

Why choose lab meat? As Shapiro’s colleague Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, notes in Shapiro’s new book, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, “The vast majority of the population is eating feces-tainted meat from animals who were pumped full of drugs and treated in ways that would be considered criminal animal cruelty if committed against dogs or cats. Clean meat is the alternative to that meat.”

While cellular agriculture isn’t quite ready to take mainstream by storm, you can read up on it in Shapiro’s new book, hitting shelves today. The main issue with rolling out so-called clean meat to the masses? Cellular agriculture is expensive, and there are some technological details that still need to be refined. But as Shapiro suggests, it’s possible that in a matter of a few short years, buying this genuine, lab-derived meat will be a reality.

Make the best protein selections you can, right now

Until lab-derived clean meat is a reality, there are steps you can take to get good, quality meat – namely by choosing grass-fed beef over grain-fed. It’s better for your body, not to mention a solid ethical choice that allows animals to graze freely and eat the healthiest foods for them – and for you. Buying grass-fed beef and wild seafood also lets you vote with your wallet – it tells supermarkets that they need to be investing in more sustainably sourced protein.

Related: Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Healthier Than Grain-Fed

Keep in mind that eating too much protein can damage your cells, impair cognitive performance, and decrease longevity. While fat is cleanly burned in your cells, protein is not, and the result of excess protein oxidation can produce several toxins in your body that decrease your performance and damage your health. To understand how toxins are formed, what they do to your body, and how to avoid toxicity while still reaping the benefits of protein, read this piece on choosing the safest types of meat. While it’ll be some time before we know how the general public will respond to lab-derived clean meat, it is coming and something you may wish to consider on your quest for good health and ethical food choices.

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