Andrew: I’m a vegan and I love meat. Well, I love the taste of meat. But ten years ago I realized I couldn’t stand to hand over another dollar to pay companies to slaughter innocent creatures, simply because I like the taste of their cooked up flesh.
So, I haven’t eaten meat since then.
That may change. I may actually eat meat again. And soon.
Thanks to some incredibly innovative people, food companies throughout the world (including in the US and Israel) are on the verge of selling meat—real meat—without the need to breed, fatten and slaughter innocent creatures and without impinging our Jewish value of minimizing the harm we inflict on other creatures, “tza’ar ba’alei chayim.”
This kind of meat is being referred to as “clean meat.” It is produced by taking cells from animals and growing the cells into meat. Sometimes, people call it “lab-grown meat” or “cultured meat,” but those names give it the wrong connotation. It won’t be produced in a lab, but rather at a place that looks more like a brewery.
The first ‘clean’ animal protein products aren’t going to be food, according to Paul Shapiro, author of the New York Times bestselling book Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World. Instead, products like leather, collagen and gelatin will be among the first ingredients to hit the shelves.
While clean meat won’t be commercially available for a few more years, there’s no shortage of high-protein vegan options you can get right now. Gardein’s meatballs, chicken tenders and fish filets are incredible. Field Roast’s mini corn dogs are a must-have at your next party. Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers and Tofurky’s bologna slices should be regulars in your refrigerator. While I’m pumped for a “clean meat” future, the present of vegan meat is pretty darn good, too.
Allison: As someone who has only recently catapulted into veganism after learning about the horrifying atrocities that occur daily on factory farms (thanks, Cowspiracy), my passion for protecting animals from these inhumane practices is fresh, raw and eager.
I’ve found myself trying all the new vegan products, restaurants and recipes—from Halo Top’s dairy-free ice cream to Shouk’s breakfast pita, and everything in between. Personally, I’m loving all of it. Living a plant-based life in a city in which vegan food is so readily available is fun and delicious. But, when I try to serve my meat-loving friends and family my favorite new vegan dishes, at times their reaction is, well, less than thrilled. Sometimes, they say, they just want to eat real meat.
Luckily, that’s where the clean meat revolution comes into play.
In the foreword Clean Meat, internationally renowned author, historian and professor Yuval Noah Harari explains that with the introduction of so-called clean meat into the world: “We could use biotechnology to create the real meat—grown from animal cells, humans crave without taking an enormous toll on the planet… and slaughtering entire creatures.”
In addition to preventing animal cruelty, clean meat can also significantly reduce our carbon footprint, helping to ensure that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can continue to enjoy life on earth as we know it. According to the Modern Agriculture Foundation, “The livestock industries are one of the more significant factors in environmental damage…responsible for the emission of 18% of global greenhouse gasses. Clean meat would require 99% less land, 80% less water and 45% less energy to grow than conventional meat.”
To me, a future where cellular agriculture can take center stage seems like a pretty obvious win-win-win:
Win #1: Animals will be able to enjoy life on earth without unnecessary torture and cruelty
Win #2: Humans (and even vegans if they so choose) will be able to eat delicious, actual meat without any sense of guilt.
Win #3: Our world will be very happy to expend far less water, pollution and general environmental degradation caused by animal agriculture and factory farming.
Fortunately, this future may not be so far off.
In 2013, the first cell-cultured hamburger was eaten live on television in London. In 2015, the Israeli startup SuperMeat was founded to create cell-cultured chicken. In 2017, the first-ever Cultured Meat Conference – A Path to Commercialization was held at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. And just recently, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as companies like Tyson and Cargill, invested big money into the future of clean meat.
Andrew and Allison: This is just the beginning of a revolution across the entire food industry. And if this whole “meat without animals” concept seems a bit too ludicrous, controversial or far-fetched, we highly suggest you read about it…or watch it! Because, after all, you never know what our future has in (the grocery) store for us.
Top photo: The present of vegan food isn’t too shabby. This “chicken” sandwich and mac n’ cheese is entirely made…from plants! Maybe in the near future, we’ll be able to eat the real stuff with “clean meat”!