Cape Town is one of the country’s most environmentally and ethically-aware provinces and arguably one of the greenest cities in the world. As the number of vegetarians and vegans rises in the Mother City, the possibility of cultured meats in our future raises debate and discussion.
A number of companies around the world are currently producing cultured meat products and a San Francisco-based food company called ‘Just’ says its cell-grown meat products will be on the market by the end of 2018.
At the current rate we’re going, meat and seafood production around the world will double to 1.2 trillion pounds by 2050. Our planet will not be able to support the amount of water, fuel, pesticides and fertilizer that this will require.
The recent trailer below gives an idea of how soon-to-be-available meat products are created:
The video shows that the only thing taken from Ian the chicken was a single feather to make chicken nuggets from the cells. It later shows a group of people sitting outside enjoying the chicken nuggets while Ian happily struts through the grass nearby.
The video stresses the low environmental impacts that cultured meats would have in comparison to livestock farming and real meat production. Alongside Just Meat, several other companies from the UK to Israel are making advancements in cell grown meats.
As possibilities grow for sustainable meats, so do the conversations of who should be regulating the technology involved and what this new meat should be called, as a lot has changed since the first burger grown in a laboratory in 2013 was tasted. Some of its present names include “cultured meat”, “clean meat” and, most recently, “cell-based meat”.
This name ‘clean meat’ has also raised worries among livestock farmers that calling it this insinuates meat produced from livestock is dirty.
As advancements are made in cell technology to produce this ‘meat’, both resistance and support are being received. Vegan and animal activists still question the environmental friendliness of cell-based meat, while producers of normal meat feel the pressure of new competition.
A few interesting statistics about meat:
– Pork is the most widely consumed meat in the world, followed by poultry, beef, and mutton
– Demand for livestock products will nearly double in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in 2050, going from 200 kilocalories per person per day in 2000 to some 400 kilocalories
– Raising livestock accounts for roughly 23 percent of all global water use in agriculture, equivalent to 1.15 liters of water per person per day
– Livestock account for an estimated 18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, producing 40 percent of the world’s methane and 65 percent of the world’s nitrous oxide
– Seventy-five percent of the antibiotics used on livestock are not absorbed by the animals and are excreted in waste, posing a serious risk to public health
– An estimated 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption.