Cultured meat: same flavor, a healthier planet

Cultured Meat

Cultured meat comes from the stem cells of animals and it seems to be an opportunity for all of us to make a difference, without any great effort or sacrifices.

 

Thanks to different studies and several experiments, scientists and researchers have tried to create a product that could meet consumers’ requests, in terms of aspect and taste, and at the same time, safeguard the health of the Earth and the animals.

How could it be possible?

 In this article, I would like to deepen with you several issues linked to climate change, discover what really is cultured meat, and find out how it could save us from future environmental disasters.

At the end of the article, you will find an incredible surprise, so keep reading until the end and, before saying “yes” or “not”, let’s analyze the scenario, shall we?

Here are the different aspects that we are going to cover:

  • Why livestock are the main responsible for climate change issues?
  • What is cultured meat?
  • What is the difference between cultured and fake meat?
  • The relationship between epidemics, pandemics, and livestock
  • Is cultured meat eco-friendly?
  • What could you do?

 

Now everyone is talking about it…

Rainforest

… climate change is a problem and livestock farming is the main responsible for it. If you are wondering why environmental issues are strictly connected to the consumption of meat, down below you will find a simple and exhaustive explanation:

 

  • Forests are being cut down to make space for livestock
  • Other forests are being cut down to make space for animal feed agriculture
  • Erosion, desertification, and loss of soil à life on Earth is impossible without the forests and, nowadays, sadly, they represent only 2% of the earth’s surface
  • About 15,000 liters of water are used to produce 1 kg of meat à including watering animals, animal feed fields, and cleaning the slaughterhouse
  • According to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the sewage, which gushes from the aquifers, is full of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and hormones. It reaches and contaminates farmlands, rivers, lakes, and oceans à these products are largely utilized in livestock in order to avoid the proliferation of infectious disease
  • By breathing, animals produced CO2; while digesting, they produce methane, CO2, ammonia, and carbon, in the form of gaseous emissions, excrements, and urine
  • Last, but not least, the transportation of the animals from the livestock to the slaughterhouse

Have you ever thought that purchasing a steak would have caused so much trouble to Mother Nature?

 

Nevertheless, a product came out,

 

the cultured meat, which could really change our future: by definition, cultured meat is “meat produced in vitro cells cultures of animal cells”.

Isha Datar, executive director of New Harvest, a cellular agriculture pioneer, explains in her Ted Talk without difficulty how cultured meat is generated.

From an animal, still alive, through a painless procedure, they collect a sample of stem cells.

Cells really like to stick to the surfaces, because it helps them grow and extend until they turn into long muscle fibers. They are fed with all the nutrients, such as carbohydrates, amino acids, growth factors, and so on.

The process is conducted inside a bioreactor which ensures a stable environment and a regular temperature, pressure, inflows, outflows, etc.

Gradually, the muscular fibers are built, and right after, they are picked and transformed into, for example, chicken nuggets.

Isha is also co-founder of Perfect Day, a company that produces milk without the exploitation of cows (April 2014), and Clara Foods, a company that produces eggs without chickens (November 2014)

Unbelievable, right?

 If you’re curious and want to go deeper into the subject, I leave you here Isha’s speech and her LinkedIn profile.

Apparently, it is too difficult giving up meat and its flavor: consequently, science gives us a valuable option that we, at least, have the responsibility to try.

 

No, it’s not a veggie burger

Meat Skewers

The supermarket shelves are full of vegetarian and vegan goods: chickpeas and peas burgers, veggie meatballs, hot dogs made of soy, and vegetal cured meats, in addition to regular products suitable for those who follow a vegan diet, such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan.

 

Cultured meat has nothing to do with this: the aspect is the same as meat, the taste is identical and the experience to have a barbecue with family and friends will still be enjoyable.

 

It is an animal product, as well as cheese, eggs, and milk, instead of being the animal itself and it still has its own nutrients.

 

If you tasted without knowing it, you could not tell the differences: sometimes it’s just our minds that play with us because our culture and traditions lead us to not change.

 

However, change is inevitable.

I quite understand that the idea and the name “cultured” do not inspire you, especially for Italians, who have a strong food and wine heritage incredibly genuine and healthy, respectful of the raw resources. Things have changed so much: between the XX and the beginning of the XXI century the population has incredibly grown and the demand for meat is unsustainable anymore.

On the contrary, thanks to cultured meat, we could turn the table and, in addition, …

 

… drastically reduce the proliferation of infectious disease

Livestock

which are very likely to be transmitted from animal to human. Sanitary conditions in livestock are deplorable and “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian” (Paul McCartney’s quote) some of us for ethics, some for the disgusting of hygienic conditions.

 

In an article written by Essere Animali, in 2020, according to the UN, livestock is the main responsible for the proliferation of viruses and epidemics. Apart from COVID19, which has still lots of unresolved questions, we could mention Sars, Ebola, Zika, Mers, etc.

The overcrowding situation in livestock causes unnatural and extreme behavior, such as cannibalism. The animal body is subjected to serious dysfunctions: pigs, for example, can easily fall down in the waste systems, without being fed for days and then drown in their own organic wastes (Dominion 2018, a documentary not suitable for sensitive people).

Sows, during their pregnancy, are forced into tight cages, where it is impossible to turn around: they usually develop bedsore or prolapse infections, caused by the multiple deliveries.

It means that foiegras could be produced without hurting the duck; all the clothes, shoes, bags, and belts, could be in real leather, by using just a piece of it, “cultivated” in a lab, not an entire head of cattle. Fur could still be trendy with no need to skin alive a fox or a ferret.

 

This process could also be implemented in the agriculture sector: we do not need to deforest rainforests for the numerous plantations of cocoa, coffee, or vanilla. We could have the egg yolk without having the albumen.

We already implemented products as a result of cellular agriculture, in small quantities, such as vitamins, several enzymes, and the rennet.

Rennet is an agglomerate of all the enzymes applied to convert milk into curd cheese and serum, with the intention of producing cheese. In the past, people used to extract it from the calves’ stomachs. In 1990 an artificial version, the chymosin, substituted the natural rennet, and nowadays, 90% of the rennet comes from bioreactors.

Is cultured meat eco-friendly?

 Climate change is re-writing the agricultural history: a production of meat in a lab could reduce about 99% of the use and the abuse of soil, 96% of the use of water, and 96% the greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2 and methane.

It means that foiegras could be produced without hurting the duck; all the clothes, shoes, bags, and belts, could be in real leather, by using just a piece of it, “cultivated” in a lab, not an entire head of cattle. Fur could still be trendy with no need to skin alive a fox or a ferret. This process could also be implemented in the agriculture sector: we do not need to deforest rainforests for the numerous plantations of cocoa, coffee, or vanilla. We could have the egg yolk without having the albumen. We already implemented products as a result of cellular agriculture, in small quantities, such as vitamins, several enzymes, and the rennet.

Rennet is an agglomerate of all the enzymes applied to convert milk into curd cheese and serum, with the intention of producing cheese. In the past, people used to extract it from the calves’ stomachs. In 1990 an artificial version, the chymosin, substituted the natural rennet, and nowadays, 90% of the rennet comes from bioreactors.

 

If there is a product that has the same flavor, texture, and nutrients as meat, that could save life on Earth, will you, at least, taste it?

EcoVSEgo

According to another Ted Talk, this time led by Bruce Friedrich, co-founder and executive director of the Good Institute, days of growing cultured meat are considerably reduced compared to traditional farming. For example, it takes six weeks to raise a chicken and then move it to the slaughterhouse. Instead, it takes six days for the same result, by using cultured meat. In this way, worldwide malnutrition could be definitely eradicated (today, 800 million humans suffer from hunger), and we would be able to fight the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance and the threat of global warming.

With a small act, you can take the first step toward a great revolution and be a witness to a product that could make a difference for the Earth.

Hi there! My name is Alessandra, born in 1996, among the rolling hills of Tuscany (Italy). Reading and writing are my simple ways to escape from reality a little bit, along with a glass of good wine 🍷✍🏻

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