In vitro meat, or cultured meat, is an artificially produced animal-flesh product that has never been part of a complete living animal.
The Utilitarian Case for In Vitro MeatEdit
Humans are directly responsible for much non-human suffering. We raise and slaughter billions of non-human animals in terrible conditions so we can buy meat as cheaply as possible. If we develop genetically engineered artificial meat that is both cheaper to produce and tastier than meat from live animals, the global factory-farming industry will collapse. Today the prospect of global veganism sounds utopian, but market economics may abolish cruelty in the food industry altogether.
Wikipedia explains how meat is cultured:
Most meat is animal muscle. The process of developing in vitro meat involves taking muscle cells and applying a protein that helps the cells to grow into large portions of meat. Once the initial cells have been obtained, additional animals would not be needed – akin to the production of yogurt cultures.
The Weirdness of In Vitro MeatEdit
The idea of in vitro meat is intuitively weird. Understandably, many people would hesitate to eat it, as they have with plant-based meat substitutes. But if in vitro meat is professionally marketed and branded, the new designer foods may come to seem normal—not weird or exotic.
How In Vitro Meat Might Become PopularEdit
Seth Baum has pointed out that in vitro meat may one day become cheap and tasty:
When meat-substitutes are developed than are cheaper - and more delicious - than today's slaughtered animals, I suspect most people will find the moral argument for a cruelty-free diet quite compelling.
David Pearce has made a related suggestion about in vitro meat's possible health benefits:
I think it's the health benefits of such meat that could win over consumers. In vitro meat could be grown with the precise amount and type of fat one wanted. Healthy hamburgers. As for the yuck factor, I'm impressed by the foods people already accept. Yogurt? And the yuck factor decreases the more consumers learn about how their meat is now produced. I doubt that surveying people about new technologies gives accurate forecasts. 100 years ago if people were asked if they wanted a microwave in their house, most would probably say no. But the question was asked here without about half of EU respondents saying they'd try cultured meat.