- a blog about food and value

Lab burgers anyone?

Silhouette of cheese burger and summer garden vegetablesReading in The Sunday Times at the weekend that scientists have grown meat in a laboratory for the first time made my stomach churn, but it also fascinated me as it raises a litany of ethical and practical questions.

Dutch scientists used cells from a pig to replicate growth in a petri-dish and this in-vitro meat could become commercialised within ten years.

Conventional meat production is hard on the environment and this cultured meat could significantly reduce the billions of tons of greenhouse gases emitted each year by animals. It’s a long way from the popular image of animals wandering round the farmyard in the sunshine, but then so is modern intensive farming.

Another upside would be no more slaughterhouses and battery-farms. The new in-vitro meat could also reduce the risks of diseases like swine-flu, avian flu, mad cow disease, salmonella and other diseases caused by greed and bad living conditions.

It’s claimed that it would not only be better for the planet and animal welfare, but actually healtheir for us too. The fat content in the in-vitro meat could be precisely controlled and potentially create a double-whopper that prevents heart attacks instead of causing them.

This breakthrough also raises conflicting ethical decisions for vegetarians – is it okay to eat synthetic meat – no animal was killed after all?

It really is the stuff of science fiction; if they can produce fake meat then why stop at the farm yard favourites – in the future we could be eating guilt-free monkey, elephant, kitten or even monkey stuffed with kitten. The options could be endless with designer meat. Appetites could become so outrageous that we could one day have a hankering for human flesh or even take a few of our own cells and eat our own flesh – yikes! It would give new meaning to “I made this dish myself”.

In the meantime I think we should all be eating less meat in general. I’m a meat-eater but I try to retain standards and respect the life of the animal. A whole chicken should not cost €4 which it does in many supermarkets at the moment, a life is worth more than that – there’s something wrong.

Would you eat synethic meat to save the planet?


  1. No thanks. I dont see the point to be honest. There are plenty of meat alternatives as it is; this is just one more.

  2. I would.

    I love meat, but generally eat a vegetarian diet when cooking at home and have fish/meat when eating out. Having a real meat alternative would mean less of an impact on the environment, so is a definite plus.

  3. Wow the mind boggles. As a veggie this is confusing for me. I am for moral reasons, yet I love the taste of meat. But yet it still doesn’t seem right. I can’t imagine the taste could match up as so many factors decide on meat tasting good, the animals breeding, the food they eat, the way their body/carcus was hung, how the meat is stored. This also brings about another question for muslims, would this meat be considered Halal? If so, the awful problem of live export could be solved.

  4. I would choose this over a live animal any day if it spares their life. I do have meat cravings sometimes and I should eat it for health reasons but I’m not comfortable with the thought of animals being slaughtered for my meal. Sounds like a perfect solution.

  5. I was afraid this article was suggesting Labrador burgers…. the actual subject was no less appetizing! It would not appeal to me at all….

  6. No, thanks…. Soon, we will be offered synthetic meat burger with OMG sweetcorn and over processed vegs that keep their colour and taste of cola to appeal to the kids. I would rather eat two free range eggs than a lab grown chicken

  7. This is utter bollocks! We (except those namby pamby veggies out there) have all been eating perfectly good farmed meat for ages. I don’t approve of intensive measures, but free range meat is fine and, despite what the Green lobby says, is perfectly harmless to the environment.