Test Tube Meat: The End of Vegetarianism?

Test tube meat is of interest to people who genuinely like cats. You kill far less animals to produce test tube meat. That should please genuine cat lovers because cat lovers are seriously concerned about animal welfare.

Vegetarians don’t eat “meat” (a euphemism for the flesh of animals). They don’t eat it because producing meat is bad for animals. You have to kill them and treat them like “products” to be commercially viable in a capitalist society. There are other reasons why we should not eat meat. Green-house gases are one reason. Cows produce methane, which, it is said, contributes to global warming.

Also, on a common sense basis, a lot of people like meat but are concerned about the way it is produced. A billion (1,000,000,000) animals are killed in the UK alone (including fish) per year to feed the human flesh eaters of the country. The conditions under which they live are sometimes highly questionable.

In general, people who like cats, don’t like the way “meat” is produced commercially. Business struggles to treat animals well because it costs more to treat animals well. People who like cats like to see animals treated well.

In vitro burger

In vitro burger. Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com. The background has been changed by Michael

The first in vitro burgers have been produced using stem cells from cows. You still need a source of living creatures to create the stem cells from which more are “grown” but the number of animals required are far less than normal. If we can produce burgers in a test tube, it is probably a good thing provided there are no unforeseen problems regarding human health and animal welfare.

I, for one, welcome it. I don’t eat red meat. I eat chicken and fish occasionally. I don’t really like doing it because both chickens and fish suffer at the hands of big business. I have more or less stopped eating fish. I stopped eating red meat years ago.

I am a bit old fashioned in eating “meat” occasionally. If I could eat a burger that was created with an absolute minimum detriment to cows, it would please me.

I have been criticized for eating “meat”. As mentioned my habits have changed a lot. I haven’t eaten red meat for decades. I sometimes eat chicken and occasionally fish and even that causes concern.

If test tube meat gains traction I wonder if it will, eventually, be used for cat food? If it does happen, I believe it will change the operation of cat shelters in the USA. I say that euthanised shelter cats are used in cat food. If in vitro meat becomes cheaper to create it may lead to more true no-kill cat shelters in the USA because there would be no profit in killing shelter cats.

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Test Tube Meat: The End of Vegetarianism? — 64 Comments

  1. Vegetarians eat nothing that had a face when it was alive, so we don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish of any kind.
    It’s a big step to turn veggie when we are older and grew up eating meat, I never gave it a thought when I was young.
    But then I started thinking how can I say I love animals, yet eat them? Babz and I decided together to give it a go and turned veggie 12 years ago, we both love mushrooms and Quorn products and have some delicious meals.
    I personally wouldn’t eat test tube meat but I suppose it’s a good thing for those who feel that turning veggie isn’t an option for them, if it saves some animals lives.
    You should try veggie burgers Michael, they are juicy and with onions you really can’t tell them from the real thing.
    We make them at home and sometimes have one when eating out, there seems to be more choice in cafes, pubs etc for veggie meals now.
    I would never criticise anyone for eating meat but we never serve up meals with it in our home and have often surprised friends by telling them after that the meal they just said they thoroughly enjoyed, was veggie.
    Our Coffee Mornings are veggie too and no one misses meat.

    • But then I started thinking how can I say I love animals, yet eat them?

      This is so right, so thoughtful. The old adage “actions speak louder than words”. I am changing. I will go vegetarian in the near future. I just struggle with a lot of things.

      • You can only do your best Michael, we are only human not saints and vegans make me feel guilty but I think that’s too huge a life change for an older person.
        Babz and I tried some soya milk, oh it was awful…fetch a bucket quick awful ….. yuck…and what would life be without butter and cheese and chocolate.
        It’s good we can get veggie booze 😉 lol

  2. Veggie sausage and free range eggs with our breakfast in a pub on a day out lol
    The new Quorn chef’s special sausages are so realistic we had to check they hadn’t made a mistake in our order

    • roflol at your picture Ruth,I love those quorn sausages too.
      No lab grown meat for me either but I can see the value in it that it might save some animals from being born only to be killed.

    • LOrof–That is the best!i’m so laugh so hard I can’t type, and Shrimp’s looking at me like I’m totally bonkers! ROFL

      can’t stop, Ruth…you r the best!

      • Caroline you should see the one of Babz sitting opposite me that I took of her having her brekkie, it’s the funniest I have seen for ages, I just have to look at it and it cheers me up.
        But I can’t share it, it’s far too frightening lol lol

        • i think this pic should be used by quorn in their advertising campaigns. i’ve never seen anyone so look forward to a sausage!! lol

        • Ok here’s the picture of me having my sausage, what is it they say – it can go on the mantelpiece to keep the kids away from the fire LOL

          • lol you’ll set poor Caroline off laughing again!
            Oh I remember that day well, we laughed all day even though it poured with rain and we got soaked through.

          • lol – this is funny indeed but most of all it makes me miss a proper english breakfast, which by the way, you cannot find out here.

            • No we’ve never tried rice milk. We use semi skimmed, I only like a small drop in tea or coffee but we use some on breakfast cereals too.

              • I drink alot of milk but just about all the milk in the supermarket here is organic. Infact I’d say about 90% of what I get in the supermarket is organic. It’s just normal in these parts. I do have to cut down though – I drink about 2 litres a day just because I’m thirsty and ice cold milk hits the spot.

                • LOL. I like that. Firstly I am impressed by the fact that nearly all milk in your part of Switzerland is organic. Switzerland is obviously an enlightened country which is probably why you chose the country or why it appealed to you. Britain is more basic I sense. Not bad but less refined perhaps. I used to drink milk in the evening when I was younger. I drink wine now! Old and messed up.

  3. Well I’ve read that this fake meat was made from a cell from a dead cow fed with blood so as far as I can see it’s still meat and there is absolutely no way on God’s earth that I would eat the muck. The only good thing I can think about it is that if it is developed and turns out to be a safe and viable option then maybe it will save real live animals being bred for slaughter. Hopefully test tube meat can’t feel terror or pain and won’t flood it’s body with harmful stress hormones at the point of death to be eaten by the flesh eating population along with the dead animal’s body parts.

  4. Maybe it will be used in cat and dog food in time to come, I hope it is safe, sometimes you never know until years later that something actually wasn’t safe after all, I don’t have a problem at all with animals eating meat, they need it, humans don’t.

  5. This is such a potentially huge debate because it makes everyone accountable for what they eat.

    Soya and palm oil, along with grazing for animals doomed to be eaten are responsible for destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of the rain forests, destruction of savannah grasslands too. The animals that lived naturally in those environments are diminished in number by starvation or destroyed.

    Soya is included in many processed meat products.

    Quorn is grown artificially and is probably leaves less of a trail of destruction behind it than soya.

    This lab grown burger sounds repulsive and reports vary as to whether it was from the stem cells of a live or dead cow.
    Harvesting stem cells from a live creature is agonising. Ask anyone who has donated bone marrow

    So whether, vegan, vegetarian or omnivore, we all have some of the guilt to carry for what we are doing to our earth and our fellow species.

    Thank you for mentioning the plight of fish and the faceless creatures of the sea Michael.

    There’s a folk/protest band called Seize The Day who produced a song in the 1990s called “Select a Dad” which is about the very subject of what we are able to do with science and includes the subject of lab grown meat.

    It’s worth seeking it out and listening.

    One of the compromises we have to make in keeping animals as companions is accepting what they eat and either providing a suitable natural diet (raw – difficult to do properly & safely for cats especially) or allowing giant industries who have an eye only for profit to provide the food for us.

    I hope this lab meat never leaves the petri dish. As of yet it’s only an imitation of beef, it contains no fat at all, because the science doesn’t yet exist to create it with a bonded digestible fat.

    I hope this muck is never used in cat food. I don’t care about what humans choose to shove into their faces.

    Pet food manufacturers are unlikely to go the way of manufacturing synthetic meat as long as a supply of very cheap cast offs from the human food chain are available.

    Interestingly, the grain/soya content of most cat food is massively high – often 70% or higher. Hydrolysed oils are used too, which some countries have banned already from human food. So most pet food commonly available on the supermarket shelf, doesn’t contain that much meat or even meat/fish/poultry derivatives. The pet food industry is deliberately shy on explicitly explaining contents.

    In the west the pet and human food industries are corrupt from seed in the field to package on the shelf.

    It’s going to take a lot more than an inedible burger to improve the lot of livestock animals I believe.

    Perhaps a return to our hunter gatherer origins would be the best thing for all.

    • Impressive comment Jane. Thank you very much. Very informative. All we have to do as humans is to stop breeding 😉 Unfortunately we can’t do it. Nor can we stop eating meat. We are rather a failure. Quorn seems to have a low level impact on the environment. It is a sort of processed fungus. Soya seems to have a considerable impact on the environment. I think growing soya bean plantations involves removing forest. Lots of animals live in forests including cats. Deforestation is one of the world’s greatest environmental problems.

      I wonder whether in 2,000 years time we will be producing “meat” in a factory without animals. I can see that happening.

    • “This lab grown burger sounds repulsive and reports vary as to whether it was from the stem cells of a live or dead cow.
      Harvesting stem cells from a live creature is agonising. Ask anyone who has donated bone marrow”

      Jane?

  6. Thanks Michael.

    “All we have to do as humans is to stop breeding”

    On Facebook there used to be a page called “Voluntary Human Extinction Society” (or something very similar) It advocated allowing we tragic apes to simply die out by not breeding. I joined the page happily and would recommend everyone to do so hehe!

    Maybe CP and other animal charities need to extend their spay/neuter schemes to humans too?

    Somehow I can see the argument for Soylent Green to be present on supermarket shelves.

    If, globally, we stopped killing all animals for food, it would fall to us to provide good care for them for the rest of their lives. I see nothing wrong with that. All of our domestic livestock animals are constructed by our lumbering attempts at husbandry. I think that would be a fair pay back for the animals and would teach homosapiens a lesson in true love for fellow living beings.

    *dissolves into a frenzy of heresy*

    😉

    • Everycat deserves a chance, Jane? Who are you? I want to read more. What other monikers do you use? Give me a site, besides those aforementioned, pls?

    • I’m not going to have children and I’m also going to be the last in familly to hold our familly name. My familly will die out because my half brother also wont have children. I think it’s a good thing. I don’t have an urge to leave something here.

      • I always knew I’d have no children, not because I don’t like them (in small doses lol) I just didn’t want them and am pleased now that I’ve none to leave in this warped world.
        I’ve let the family tradition of many generations down though, of the oldest girl always being called Ruth and our late dad’s lineage has come to a dead end as Babz has no children either, she married too late in life. Our late mother lives on though in our half brothers and their families.
        Life is strange!

        • I didn’t want children either. Although I feel I would have been a decent dad. If you have children you really have to commit to it totally. A lot of people drift into it or have children because it is expected of them.

          • *nodding vigorously in agreement with all of the above*

            I never wanted children. I like the term “child free” rather than “childless” Sometimes it’s hard to get this difference across to the rabid breeding folk though. They assume you are missing something.

            Equality and less greed would help so many have better lives. I’ve started to really loathe what this country has become over the last ten years or so.

            I see more selfishness, jealousy and a complete lack of empathy for others, of course this extends to how so many treat animals too. Actually, it breaks my heart. We used to be a kind people. Who would knowingly bring children into a world like that?

    • We think the same. Very few people discuss mass human breeding and human population growth 😉 It is not done in polite circles!

      What I want is zero economic growth, stability, equality and quality of life. I don’t bloody well want more money, just a better life for me and all animals.

  7. Okay, trying to hold my broken ribs in, Ruth. lol. Seriously, have you looked at Ping’s research here in the US? I’m not sure if it’s Stanford, doesn’t matter. She is working diligently with other engineers to create the molecular paper food.

  8. Cal, I’m just Jane, a cat lover from the UK. I don’t use any other online names. I’m an atheist, a humanist, I don’t formally publish my riffs or ramblings anywhere. I believe all humans are animals and have forgotten so which has been to the detriment of every living being. Being an animal is a good thing 🙂

    I asked the in house scientist here about this harvesting of stem cells. He said that stem cells can be harvested from either umbilical cord blood or from bone marrow. Harvesting bone marrow from a dead donor wouldn’t produce reliably active cells. Decay of blood cells happens very quickly at death. In house scientist had a name for this decay which I have forgotten.

    Molecular paper food? Oh how yummy does that sound? lol.

    • Hi Jane, you’re like me. I like your CV! One of the great human self-deceptions is that people don’t accept that they are animals like any other. This distances us from nature and from other animals and encourages and justifies the use and abuse people dish out to animals. As I frequently argue, it is a toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance. A lot of the world is like that. People in developed countries seem to be little better than those in undeveloped countries. Religion tends to make matters worse.

      All good cat caretakers have a humble view of themselves. They tend to see their cat as an equal. I have never seen any animal as anything other than an equal. It is natural to think like that.

    • Jane, I’ve just gone back and reread this post and comments. I can see that I was taken the wrong way, which was my fully fault at the time. I was drinking vodka heavily for three straight months and ended up in the hospital for a week, then into treatment. August 5th was the day that I stopped breathing, the day that I somehow was commenting on PoC when I should have not been functioning in any capacity. That is in the past, as I am now almost five months alcohol-free. I do know that I sincerely was hoping to read more from you, because I liked what you said (as best as I could understand in my physical state at the time). I wish that I could read more, esp. now that I am sober, alive. Your beliefs seem akin to mine.

      My apologies for having replied when I had no business doing so. Hope you return soon to PoC. Peace, Love and Joy to You and to All this holiday season!

      • Cal! I am so sorry that you have been through such a rough patch, long may your recovery continue. Five months off the juice is a huge achievement. I think you are great No apologies are necessary for your actions, I took no offence at all.

        Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that I will be returning on a regular basis to PoC. Back in August, two female members (sisters) of this site decided to treat me to a storm of aggressive abuse as they misguidedly believe that they own this site and behaving like bullies is acceptable. Their abuse to me showed them up as a shabby pair of jealous haters. Alas, the site owner, who I have respect for saw fit to allow their behaviour, so I left. Life is far too short.

        Wishing you all the best Cal, may good fortune find and stay with you

        Jane xx

        • Forgot to mention Cal, that I liked your posts very much. You are one very humane person with a very interesting and knowledgable take on welfare and the broader issues along with a wonderful love of cats 🙂 xx

        • Thank you for your kind words, Jane. That means so much. 🙂
          See? You came back! I hope that you will reconsider, and share your time and wisdom here. I know that she (if it is the dear person I’m thinking of) can come across as a bit brusque at times. She’s devoted her life to cat (animal) welfare, and is a bit, quite a bit worn out what she has seen

          It took me a while to be comfortable exchanging thoughts and feelings on this site, as I felt that it was quite exclusive, not accepting of visitors who weren’t in their clique, but really I don’t think they ever intended to make me feel that way. (They took me in even though I must have been difficult, not just the sloshed state, but with my autistic tendencies.
          I hope that you will reconsider. You have so much knowledge and insight, always refreshing for any forum that tends to get bogged down by that which I wrote of above.

          Thanks for replying to me, Jane. I hope that you change your mind. I, and many others, really like having you here! Love, Cal

  9. Right on Michael!

    I think fear plays a big part in this arrogance and ignorance too.
    Our enormous brain has given us the ability to radically change our environment and bully our way to the “top” of the food chain. Any reminder to some, that we are still animals seems to enrage many people, especially those who consider that we are “more” than animals.

    Our claim to this superior status is tenuous at best, and I think that deep down, those who claim that humans are superior, realise this and their fear of facing their animal nature makes them defensive. I think fear is behind much deliberate cruelty to animals, the need to prove superiority to animals by dominating them with abuse.

    I see being classed as an animal as a compliment rather than an insult. I like the way animals do anything to avoid conflict, how they have an economic and effective approach to survival. How they don’t allow ego to distort everything around them.

    I agree about cat caretakers, we are a good bunch of apes. I don’t want to get into a cat/dog debate, but I think cats are great levellers of people. Successful cat/human relationships are more about equality and harmony rather than dominance.

    No cat responds to demand. Alas many humans need to see that from other animals before they deem other species worthy of respect.

    Good people on this site. Long may they and the cats they care for, thrive 🙂

    • I think fear plays a big part in this arrogance and ignorance too.

      Agreed. Everyone lives in fear. Most people don’t realise it. The human race is a terrified headless chicken. That is disrespectful of chickens and I apologise but it conveys the meaning.

    • It sure is Marc, it’s also phyto-oestrogenic and is thought to mimic the action of oestrogen in the body. Many cancers are oestrogen dependent. There is an assumption that because soy is seen to be “natural” it is a safe food stuff and other plants containing phyto-oestrogens are often recommended as alternatives to conventional medicine. One of them Black Cohosh (often pushed as a CAM supplement for women experiencing menopausal hot flushes) can cause liver failure!

      There are no reliable studies available as to the extent of the oestrogen like effects of soy or other plants containing them in the body, that I have found, and I have looked quite a bit.

      If anyone knows of any studies, please post them. We all need to be as informed as possible I think.

      GM to me is humans pushing evolution. It’s like letting a toddler loose with a blow torch and being surprised when the house burns down.

        • Thanks for those Michael, I have seen some of them before, but many are new to me. A quick skim through and the same message comes across – “we know soy acts a bit like oestrogen, but we don’t know how or why it does that, for some populations who eat soy from birth, it might reduce the cancer risk, but for some, soy may play a part in carcinogenesis”

          Standard adjuvant hormonal treatment for oestrogen/progesterone dependent breast cancer is to suppress the production of oestrogen in the ovaries (pre-menopausal) and to block the oestrogen pathway from body fat (post menopausal) so that in effect the body has no oestrogen to either fire up a cancer or feed it. Some studies show soy and BMI are linked, some show no correlation.

          We are going to see some pretty serious long term consequences of these approaches I think.

          Hormones are so powerful and we need them for so many things, science is at the toddler-with-a-blow-torch stage with hormone treatments. We have a long way to go.

    • As I said in my response to Jane, I only use lactose-free milk as it has cured my sinus problem. I have used it for about 2 years. Made a big difference to my health.

  10. I am going to suggest to a friend that he tries non lactose milk, he suffers dreadfully with sinus problems. Thanks for that!

  11. Just found out how the stem cells that go to make this test tube meat are actually cultured. They grow in something called BFS – Bovine Foetal Serum. This is made from the blood of a bovine foetus. This meat will not grow in anything else. It may be possible to get foetal blood without killing the foetus, I don’t know how they harvest it.

    Apparently BFS is used in other culturing processes too 🙁

    So for those hoping that this test tube meat might reduce or get rid of animal cruelty and death, sadly, it looks like it just creates more of the same.

    • Thanks Jane. Back to the drawing board then. Where’s the Quorn….? I think a genuine meat substitute that was exactly the same in texture, taste and nutrition would sell very well. I don’t think it it beyond the scientists to create it.

      • Well Quorn suits us nicely but I know two people who are allergic to it, it makes them feel sickly, so it doesn’t suit everyone.
        But if I wasn’t able to eat it I’d still stay veggie because I could substitute mushrooms for the main chewing part of meals. The big plate ones roasted in the oven are delicious.
        Some veggies go back to eating meat but I never will eat it again in my life.

  12. I think for now, Quorn is about as good as it gets. I think that science has a long way to go in creating something that is truly like meat.

    Maybe if farming welfare standards were raised up very high (and policed) then the cost of meat would rise to a point where people were more willing to try alternatives.

    It’s hard to know which end to tackle this from isn’t it?

    • I suppose there never can be anything which tastes exactly like meat because it’s actually flesh from a living being, so there is no kind way to copy it.
      We cook based with Quorn mince, chicken, or steak strips and with veggie gravy with onions we find our meals delicious.

  13. Quorn is very good. Now supermarkets stock so many kinds of mushrooms, that’s a big help for variety of taste and the big chewy thing too

  14. One thing that might help is to reintroduce home economics lessons in schools for all children from day one.

    My Mum taught me to cook, but at school, from age 11 all girls had to do home economics lessons weekly. For those who didn’t get taught to cook at home, these lessons were really useful. Of course back then in the stone age, there weren’t so many processed foods or ready meals.

    If children were encouraged to cook economically (meat is very expensive) and to explore making meals without meat substitutes or with, then they might grow up without the need to eat meat.

    Just a thought.

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