Synthetic Meat

I find this such an exciting prospect, whether or not our current treatment of animals is as bad as is alleged.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Paul Durrant

    I’d certainly eat synthetic meat when it becomes available.

    But do we need to be wary of the main plot point in Arthur C Clarke’s “The Food of the Gods” short story?

    • Synfandel

      Which is…?

    • anat

      There is nothing wrong with eating the ‘meat’ in the Clarke story. It is a synthetic product, like all other ‘meats’ consumed in that society. I don’t see the moral relevance of the fact that it is a chemical mimic of human flesh.

    • http://langcultcog.com/traumatized DuWayne

      Anat -

      I read something a while back, in response to republican pearl clutching about human stem cells in research and medicine, indicating that stem cells might well make a great source for growing “synthetic” meat (I really despise the use of the term synthetic in contexts such as this). The author further surmised that it might make for some interesting variation to use human stem cells. And that atheists in particular might find meat grown from fetal stem cells an especial delicacy – allowing us to consume “babies” without incurring a prison sentence.

  • http://becomingjulie.blogspot.com/ BecomingJulie

    There is a school of thought — not widely subscribed to, but it certainly exists — among vegetarians and vegans that substitutes such as Quorn and TVP are bad, because they are still pretending to be m**t. So if you eat vegeburgers, then you aren’t a “real” vegetarian.

    I really can’t see that faction supporting the idea of growing m**t in the lab. And once the technology is ready for mass production, I’m sure a convincing-sounding reason will be found to object to it.

    • http://langcultcog.com/traumatized DuWayne

      Sorry, but I have no use for veggies who make those sorts of assertions. TVP isn’t just a functional meat substitute, it is a cheap, healthy* food source in it’s own right. I cook with TVP all the time, sometimes in dishes that also contain some sort of meat – usually a meat stock.

      What really gets me about that attitude though, is that it really just turns a dietary/lifestyle choice into a purity contest. There are very good reasons for consuming less meat. Meat isn’t the healthiest dietary option. Mass scale meat production is bad for the environment. Many standard meat production techniques are downright cruel. Bullshit like that just attempts to make reducing meat consumption inaccessible to a lot of people.

      Fundamentalism annoys the shit out of me – whether overtly religious in nature, or if it is just postmodern nuts imbuing non-supernatural concepts with the trappings of religion.

      *This depends on the vegetable source – too much soy isn’t healthy because it’s a significant source for phytoestrogen. I primarily use TVP made from gluten, occasionally using TVP made from both gluten and soy (mainly because of the texture).

  • unbound

    As long as the synthetic meat is grown properly (i.e. full of the same micro-nutrients as normal meat), I would be happy to ingest it.

    My primary concern is that the synthetic meat will be heavily over-processed like flour. Ignoring fat issues (which is a huge discussion by itself), meat is actually the most nutritionally complete food you can eat (for humans). Since we don’t eat raw liver anymore, you end up using fruits for vitamin C, but there isn’t a single vegetable or fruit that comes even close the range of micro-nutrients found in meat. If that meat ends up being as heavily processed as wheat, you’ll end up seeing even more health issues with people not getting proper nutrition.

    • MichaelD

      I never thought of that O.O Just think we’re going to be wading through a sea of multivitamin meats…

  • http://onth3outsidecorner.wordpress.com/ otocump

    I really can’t see that faction supporting the idea of growing m**t in the lab. And once the technology is ready for mass production, I’m sure a convincing-sounding reason will be found to object to it.

    BecomingJulie, you already have that answer in the very next reply. Even before anything is actually known about the properties of the item we have presumptions and excuses ‘why it’ll be bad for us’

    My primary concern is that the synthetic meat will be heavily over-processed like flour. Ignoring fat issues (etc)

    Ok, ignoring that and the rest of it as well. Thanks.

    Gees.

  • http://langcultcog.com/traumatized DuWayne

    I would like to clarify that I am really excited about the idea of cultured meat. I am confident that the associated problems will be worked out eventually. There are a lot of interesting possibilities, some of which I follow (I get a couple of regular news letters about nanotech and culture meat occasionally comes up).

  • Anat

    OK, now that I’m in a quiet environment and could watch the movie, I see they don’t give much detail about the source of nutrients for those cultured cells. Typically growth medium for cultured cells is supplemented with serum which comes from an animal source. Bovine fetuses is the most common source, though sometimes horse serum is used, sometimes the serum of other animals. The serum is required as a source of growth factors that promote cell replication and sometimes differentiation or maintaining a certain state of differentiation. There are serum-free media where these growth factors are added in purified form. Either way, animal products are used. If the cultured meat is grown in similar fashion then animals are used in its production. So the claim that animals don’t die for this product may be inaccurate. More information is needed.

  • http://becomingjulie.blogspot.com/ BecomingJulie

    DuWayne:

    too much soy isn’t healthy because it’s a significant source for phytoestrogen

    That’s interesting, although everyone seems to be downplaying the effect of phyto-östrogens. (Possibly because it’s in almost nobody’s interests otherwise: nobody in the food industry wants their product to be perceived in a negative light; nobody in the pharmaceutical industry wants it known that there is a generally-available source of hormones that may help anyone suffering the effects of the menopause or attempting a low-budget transition; and nobody among the vegan fascists wants to come across sounding like an MRA, or to admit that their beloved soja is not quite so wonderful as it is made out to be.)
    DuWayne:

    What really gets me about that attitude though, is that it really just turns a dietary/lifestyle choice into a purity contest.

    Exactly! (I think The Simpsons nailed it with the line “I’m a level 5 vegan — I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow”). It basically turns what ought to be a simple decision into a “who can exclude the most from their diet” pissing competition. This actively discourages people from becoming even vegetarian, perhaps for fear that they will turn into sanctimonious tossers themselves.

    Also, this takes no account of a rare genetic disorder which can leave a person unable to survive on a vegetarian diet; food allergies which can make it highly impractical; or the break-even point where the cruelty of depriving a person of something they were meant to eat eventually matches the cruelty of raising an animal for food.
    DuWayne:

    There are very good reasons for consuming less meat. Meat isn’t the healthiest dietary option. Mass scale meat production is bad for the environment. Many standard meat production techniques are downright cruel. Bullshit like that just attempts to make reducing meat consumption inaccessible to a lot of people.

    Well, yes. There are rational arguments for some people reducing their reliance on m**t. But the vegetarian lobby’s persistent own goals aren’t helping.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    Yeah, I can’t stand the one-uppers, especially raw-foodies, who seem to be the biggest group. I don’t think I would eat synthetic meat, as meat is still gross, but if they came up with a way to produce large amounts of cheap egg whites, I would be on board. Milk also interests me.


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