Culture and cultured meat
Updated: Feb 25
By: Vincent Pribble
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to take the blame for climate change off of the corporations on the 100 top polluters list and put it onto individual consumers. For more information on the top polluters, please see this link and this link.
The State of Meat
Climate change is already affecting our cultures and how we live our lives each day. Around the globe, people are increasingly concerned with how the climate will ultimately impact their life. For millions, finding shelter, food and water is in jeopardy daily. While we deal with these external changes in our own ways, we need to confront things that are under our own control, such as our diets. Going to a grocery store to find aisles packed with every kind of meat available without needing to witness the animal being slaughtered has desensitized people to understanding what is taking place in the meat industry. Millions, upon millions of cows, pigs, chickens and lambs are grown in bad conditions and are forced to eat day after day, endure disease, and in many cases, living a horrible life. Besides the living conditions, growing animals for consumption consumes a lot of resources. One cow drinks 30-50 gallons of water every day, eats 24 lbs of feed (grass, leaves or grains), and needs around 1.8 acres of land. Cows typically live around 24 months before being slaughtered, which means that a single pound of beef is equivalent to 1,847 gallons of water, 2.5 lbs of grains and ~60 lbs of CO2 (Ritchie, 2020). For reference, a gallon of gas emits 19.37 lbs of CO2. Regardless of other habits, our diets have a huge impact on how much freshwater we use each day, and until now, there has not been many options to avoid decrease this waste besides eating less meat. Cultivated meat produces animal meat without killing an animal. Cells are grafted from a cow, pig or chicken and these cells are then grown in large tanks called bioreactors. The output is the same tender steak, crispy piece of bacon, or tender chicken breast with the same taste and texture as what we currently find at our supermarkets.
A single pound of beef uses 1,847 gallons of freshwater
Traditions and Industrialized Meat
What we eat and the effects of our diet on the planet is an issue being raised more. While vegetarian and vegan diets drastically decrease resource requirements, they don’t really allow us to continue our traditions. Cultures, society and individual families have traditions lasting hundreds of years surrounding meat. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between how eating animal products is intertwined with our cultures, how it is obtained, and how it affects our planet. This is the outcome of demand increasing in an industry that was never really meant to produce the quantity of food it is currently being asked to do. In 1990, the global consumption of meat was around 150 million tons per year. Only 30 years later, that amount has doubled to 324 million tons and isn't slowing down. By 2050, it is projected that 570 million tons will be consumed each year (The World Counts, 2022). Growing that amount would require ever larger industrial farms, or by leveling most of the remaining forest that currently exists today. Livestock farming, when not put under the strain of high demand, is not a bad industry intrinsically. There are plenty of benefits to the animals, consumers, and general advancement of the breeds when not performed in an industrial setting. The animal production industry is in a state of industrialized slaughter centered around production and not animal well-being, and unfortunately the animals are the ones who suffer for it. To date, there have been few options which ensure no suffering, but with cultivated meat, we are finally able to guarantee that animals will not.
Experiencing and enjoying the depth of our culture's traditions are multiplied when we know that food we are eating came from animals which did not suffer.
Change through Cultivated Meat
As the planet changes, we will be asked to sacrifice some things we consider normal today. With cultivated meat, we can still make positive change without affecting our plates. What if there was a way in which you could still eat the quantity of meat you currently do, but without the impacts? Micro Meat is developing technologies which increase production yield, while removing all animal based products. While this may seem like a far away concept, manufacturers are already awaiting FDA/USDA approval to begin selling here in the US within 1-2 years. Cultivated meat enables animal and suffering free meat which drastically reduces freshwater use, increases available grains for our communities, and allows us to re-wild enormous swaths of land. All of which are immensely important for healing our planet and helping to stop biodiversity loss. Looking to the future, lab grown meat is one of the few solutions that can maintain our lifestyles and cultures, while protecting the environment. Consuming meat doesn’t need to be detrimental in the ways that it is today, and within ten years, it won’t be.
Want to help us bring cultivated meat to shelves around the world? Check out our careers page for more information.