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The Rise of Lab-Grown Meat

By Suvia Li Feb. 16, 2022


Over the last decade, lab-grown, or cultured meat has surfaced to the public’s eye due to its potential to improve the environmental and ethical concerns of traditional meat production. The meat industry’s immoral treatment of farm animals and contribution to climate change make it unsustainable long-term. Lab-grown meat provides an alternative for those who enjoy eating meat but are concerned with the problems traditional meat brings.


Daniel Choi Art


Cultured meat is made by collecting cells from tissues in farm animals, then cultivating them in a lab to replicate the muscle structures of flesh, eventually forming a palpable lump of meat. Initially developed for food security, lab-grown meat is different from plant-based meats: The latter is created from a combination of soy protein, potato protein and plant oils and contains no animal parts, while cultured meat still contains animal cells.


Traditional meat production’s damage on the environment makes lab-grown meat a more sustainable substitute. An investigation by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that the meat industry accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, manufacturing cultured meat releases 96% less greenhouse gas than traditional meat, as evidenced in a 2011 study by the University of Oxford.


Irony lies in the fact that the preparation of meat has contributed to misuse of water and agricultural produce. One kilogram of beef alone requires 15 thousand liters of water to produce, as discovered by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The value that comes from traditional meat does not warrant the excessive draining of the global water supply. Additionally, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that only half of the world’s crop yield is being consumed by people; a large portion is used to feed livestock. Meat production’s inefficiency makes it unsupportable; converting to lab-grown meat not only reduces the world’s water expenditure but can free the land used to raise animals.


“Climate change, an ever-growing issue in today’s society, changes weather and temperatures and harms wildlife. If made accessible, I recommend switching to eating lab-grown meat for people who want to help with this issue but do not know where to start. Changing our eating habits is conducive to helping curb climate change,” Sophomore Emma Duong said.


Regarding moral conscience, industrial animal farming has a history of unethical procedures. Although killing animals for meat is not necessarily wrong—being embedded in humans’ biological nature for survival—the way animals are treated in the modern meat industry is loathsome. Animals are confined, mutilated, separated from their children and forcefully bred.

While lab-grown meat is produced differently than traditional meat, its components and nutritional value are no different. Both are high in cholesterol and saturated fat while being rich in salubrious nutrients including iron and vitamin B. Although it is not flawless, cultured meat rivals the nutritional composition of its traditional counterpart, so consumers can replace their traditional diets with lab-grown meat without any dietary losses.


“I would be willing to switch to eating lab-grown meat because it is better for the environment and prevents immoral treatment of livestock. However, there may be people unwilling to try it because it feels unnatural to them to consume something genetically modified,” Sophomore David Kim said.


Even though lab-grown meat is perfectly edible, hesitancy toward cultured meat is likely. People may refuse to eat food grown in a lab, even choosing to pay more for natural, organic products. The price gap between organic and inorganic foods perpetuates a stigma where people tend to associate more expensive products with higher quality.


Informing the public about the overwhelming benefits that lab-grown meat has on animals and the environment, as well as the process of cultured meat, can reframe negative appraisals of lab-produced food, potentially encouraging countless people to make the conscientious decision to switch their diets.


 

About the Contributors

Suvia Li

Staff Writer


Suvia Li is a sophomore at Leland High school. She is a staff writer and artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, eating, and listening to music.












Daniel Choi

Artist


Daniel Choi is a freshman at Leland High School and a current artist for The Charger Account. Outside of school, he spends time practicing various art forms, playing tennis, and binge-watching shows at unbelievable speeds.

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