What sounds like a science-fiction story has become a reality in the past few years in some laboratories around the globe. Scientists are working on alternative meat production methods where meat no longer comes from a slaughtered animal, but is being grown artificially in labs. The first lab born burger was shown, cooked and tasted in 2013.
As this issue is becoming more present on the public agenda, FOUR PAWS is closely monitoring the progress, and so far we know the following:
With conventional animal products globally accounting for over 80 billion1 lives of animals per year, 83% of agricultural land use2 and 16.5%3 of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, 'Cultivated Meat' (also known as 'Clean Meat') could help us conserve our limited resources and have the potential to save billions of animals per year from inhumane conditions and eventual slaughter. This is an initiative FOUR PAWS is strongly in favor of.
Though large-scale manufacturing of cultured meat is costly, which includes the cost of cell culture and skilled labor, the costs are drastically decreasing which highlights the potential of making 'Cultivated Meat' available to the masses in the not so distant future.
We currently don’t know what the clear consequences for farm animals and their welfare would be, but the advancements in recent years encourages optimism in the processes and the potential positive impact this meat successor would have. Since this innovation is still currently on going, with an ever-increasing interest, we presume that a massive change in the farming of animals is then likely to happen.
Conventional meat production is very inefficient
For every 100 kilocalories you feed a cow, you only get 2 kilocalories of beef back, which means, 98% is lost in the process of producing beef. For lamb, 96% is lost during conversion, for pork it’s 91% and 87% for poultry. This is why eating less meat would mean eliminating large losses of calories, thus being able to feed more people plus reducing the amount of farmland needed. This would free up billions of hectares for natural vegetation, forests and ecosystems to return.
Most animal based products available in supermarkets come from animals in conventional agriculture. This system is designed to mass produce items such as meat, eggs and milk. Animal welfare considerations are not at the forefront of this process, therefore animals farmed in this way are not able to live in an environment in accordance with their needs and feelings.
Many people do not want to support the suffering of animals. But what can you do about it? The good news is that everyone can take action and directly help animals through the individual choices they make and by being aware of what products they are buying and endorsing.
Reduce – Refine – Replace
Still, FOUR PAWS encourage people who choose an animal-friendly lifestyle to reduce their consumption of animal derived products and include more plant-based alternatives in their diet.
In this way, you actively help as a consumer and send a positive signal! Thanks for your support.
2 Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987-992.
3 Twine, R. Emissions from Animal Agriculture; URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/11/6276