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Cultured Meat Confusion: The Answer Is Veganism And Always Has Been

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The cultured meat movement – or the “clean meat movement” as they like to call it – seems to be muddying the already troubled waters surrounding our societal perception of animals. It strikes me as rather sad that we’re willing to spend £222,000 on growing a cultured meat ‘Frankenburger’ and a “meal-sized piece of meat” worth £15,000 instead of educating people as to why we shouldn’t be considering animals as sources of food in the first place. If those resources were instead sunk into educating people about veganism, we would not only substantially reduce demand for animal products right now, we would quite literally move the conversation away from animals as things to animals as moral persons in a very short period of time. You know, instead of perpetuating the idea that animals are of lesser moral value than humans and that it’s still okay for us to continue using them in some way.

Even if we ignore the immorality of assuming animals to be sources of food for a moment, the idea that cultured meat represents a practical solution to either animal exploitation or the environment is so beyond pie-in-the-sky that the pie is now reaching perihelion around a distant star. The current costs of producing such stitched-up abominations are so high that it’ll take decades before even the most privileged of the bourgeoisie start putting these manifestations of violence on their weekly shopping lists.

The Telegraph seems to think that Memphis Meats – the leader in cultured animal death – is “creating a product which even vegetarians could eat.” Vegetarians? Sure – vegetarianism is not a morally consistent position in any case. But for people who consider animals to possess moral value – ethical vegans – consuming these products is no more acceptable than purchasing furniture for your home made from cultured human skins. In both cases, they assume that the sentient beings in question are the sorts of beings suitable to be used as resources; it makes a value judgement against them maintaining that these beings – regardless of whether or not their products are cultured – can be used exclusively as resources. If we think it’s okay to culture them, we will always remain open to the idea that we can use non-cultured versions of these products. That’s the crux of why promoting cultured meat is so morally problematic, it essentially does nothing but take the public down a diversion that will ultimately still lead to the same place – the belief that animals are things for human use.

Becoming vegan and educating others about veganism is not only the solution to animal exploitation by means of reducing demand, it ensures that we’ll never go down this road again where we think it’s acceptable to use animals as replaceable resources.

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  • rusical1122

    I believe there is definitely an argument against cultured meat, but I’m confused by the arguments the author chose to make in this post. Like, why is there such an emphasis on cost and this critique of class privilege? Cultured meat is a burgeoning technology, one that’s still heavily reliant on research and has yet to produce any kind of consumer-facing product. The cost of cultured meat currently possesses zero indicators for how expensive it may be in the future. The first personal computers IBM manufactured were $55,000. The first cars were powered by steam, in addition to being prohibitively expensive for anyone outside the ultra-rich.

    It seems the ethical objection and the wrongness of using animals for any purpose is what’s at the heart of this post. Why waste arguing about the costs of it, or conflating clean meat with the moral dubiousness of vegetarianism when it’s clear The Telegraph was clearly brushing vegetarianism with a broad brush?

    Instead, the main premises of the argument here are left unsupported. Namely, that a collection of cells is an animal. Why should we give moral consideration to a collection of cells? How do we know people will respond to lab-grown meat by remaining “remain open to the idea that we can use non-cultured versions of these products.”? Who’s to say being presented with the option to purchase clean meat will not magnify the harm committed by traditional slaughter to consumers?

    • Cenk Tekin

      Because the slippery slopes are very steep for abolitionists, and ideological purity is primary concern.

  • alttext

    It’s this sort of all or nothing approach that is going to doom the planet to desertification, drought, and disease. We need solutions now that will severely curtail animal husbandry activities. Cultured meat should be a tool we use to do that.

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