In my Philosophy of Food class we are each writing papers on various topics. Some are writing about the debate of, is food art?, some about the ethics of genetically modified food and some even on the ethics of cannibalism! I chose to write about synthetic meat. Is synthetic meat ethical? My argument is that yes it is ethical. First, what is synthetic meat? It is difficult for me to explain this as it is very science based. I have a quote by Michael Specter from the New Yorker that explains the process.
“In-vitro meat…can be made by placing a few cells in a nutrient mixture that helps [the cells] proliferate. As the cells begin to grow together, forming muscle tissue, they are attached to a biodegradable scaffold, just as vines wrap around a trellis. There the tissue can be stretched and molded into food, which could, in theory, at least, be sold, cooked, and consumed like any processed meat—hamburger, for example, or sausage” (Specter 2011).
Here Specter explains some of the process that goes into creating synthetic meat. I have also put at the end of this post some links to videos on synthetic meat that I found in interesting.
In my paper I am arguing that synthetic meat is an ethical way to consume meat that benefits our environment, the people consuming it, and animals.
The meat industry impacts our environment and planet. Here are some statistics I have found.
- “Roughly 18% of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are produced by the meat industry, specifically cows”- Cows produce large amounts of methane. This is emitted into our atmosphere.
- “Methane is more than 20 times as dangerous to the environment than CO2”
In the creation of synthetic meat there are no harmful gasses emitted into our atmosphere.
Also, synthetic meat does not take up nearly as much space as the meat industry uses.
- “70% of former tropical rain forests in Costa Rica and Panama has been stripped and converted to cattle raising pastures. In Brazil, 40% of its land has been cleared for raising beef”
I think that this is really bad to our planet because the more land we clear for producing meat, the more we are taking land away from the wildlife that lived there once before. This is not an issue when creating synthetic meat.
- “The global population is expected to rise from seven billion to more than nine billion by the year 2050. This increase will be accompanied by a doubling of the demand for meat and a steep climb in the greenhouse-gas emissions for which animals are responsible”
Synthetic meat does not do these harmful things to our environment. We can start the process to erase our carbon footprint if we adopt synthetic meat as an alternative for traditional meat.
Animals suffer no pain in the process of synthetic meat. They feel the slight pinch of a needle in order to get the cells which then create the synthetic meat.
Slaughtering an animal for its meat causes the animals pain and suffering. Animals may not be able to express their pain with words, but we should be able to understand they are feeling pain because their reaction is similar to how we as humans react to pain.
In my paper I argue that synthetic meat is better for humans to consume than meat from an animal.
First, meat is very unhealthy for us and it poses many health risks.
Heres a statistic.
- “ By eating animals, humans have exposed themselves to SARS, avian influenza, and AIDS, among many other viruses. The World Health Organization has attributed a third of the world’s deaths to the twin epidemics of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both greatly influenced by excessive consumption of animal fats”
Synthetic meat has never actually seen the inside of an animal, so it does not have the ability to carry diseases that can be associated with meat. Also, synthetic meat has a low amount of fat. Since it is made in a lab they can determine how little or how much fat to put into the product. They could potentially also put nutrients into the meat. They can place any vitamins or minerals that would benefit the person eating it. Synthetic meat has the ability to create a much healthier and long lasting lives for people. People can have the option to fulfill their desire to eat meat, while also it be good for them.
Synthetic meat can make people feel ethical about what they are eating.
I have a utilitarian perspective in this situation. I believe that because meat causes suffering for animals, suffering for people(because of health risks) and the deterioration of our environment, it outweighs the desire us humans have for consuming meat.
Its not morally correct for us to consume a piece of meat happily when it is slowly killing our planet, slowly being detrimental to peoples health, and it causes pain to a species we share this earth with.
I think that if people become more educated about synthetic meat and all it can do for us, hopefully they will make the ethical choice to embrace it over slaughtered meat.
Here are some great videos about synthetic meat:
Thanks for reading
Gina Marie ✰❀☼