I’ve been thinking about this for the past few weeks for a few reasons. At MIT Technology Review’s recent climate tech event, my colleague James Temple interviewed Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. The company makes plant-based meat substitutes designed to closely resemble real meat — most famously for its “Bleeding” burgers. When asked about his thoughts on “cell-based” meat, Brown replied: “I certainly don’t see them as competitors.”
I have also been reading a series of papers published in scientific journals natural food A few weeks ago, it explored the arguments for and against cultured meat in more detail.
Another reason I’ve been thinking about meat substitutes is because the winter holidays are coming up, and as someone who doesn’t eat meat, it’s my job to come up with a substitute that everyone will love, including my picky kids and meat lovers Dad, I like it. Talk about impossible foods.
But back to cultured meat. In theory, meat grown in a bioreactor is a brilliant idea for a number of reasons. First, we will be able to reduce intensive livestock farming, which can be cruel and inhumane. Keeping animals in cramped conditions creates perfect conditions for disease to spread and even to humans.
The use of antibiotics to avoid outbreaks of such diseases is also very problematic. It is estimated that about 70% of the antibiotics we use to treat human infections are also used in farm animals. Any microorganisms that become resistant to antibiotics as a result of this use could end up in crops, soils, rivers and humans, potentially leading to untreatable or even deadly diseases. For example, at least 1.2 million people died from antibiotic-resistant infections in 2019.
The process of producing meat is also bad for the environment. Livestock is an important part of our greenhouse gas emissions. We use more than one-third of the planet’s habitable land to raise animals—lands that may be carbon-depleting forests or woodlands. Deforestation for agriculture would render many species, many endangered, homeless. This destroys biodiversity.