The meat industry can sometimes be pretty awful, for a number of reasons. Aside from the ethical concerns, factory farming is one of the worst contributors to climate change. Certain types of meat are also not exactly great for your health, yet Americans are eating massive amounts and global demand for more meat is rising.
Is there a solution to this problem? Well we could ditch it altogether and encourage everyone on the planet to adopt a plant-based diet, but that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, understandably so. For all the Ron Swansons of the world, giving up meat is unthinkable. Well what if meat could be grown on trees and we no longer needed to use animals?
We don’t live in some crazy sci-fi, meat-tree future quite yet, but scientists have been perfecting the art of growing meat in labs. It’s kind of like when you grew mold on bread for the 4th grade science fair, but way more expensive to do. Actual stem cells from actual cows are mixed with nutrients that allow the cells to grow and multiply over a few months in a petri dish, eventually rendering something meat-esque. So far it’s not easy to perfectly replicate the taste and texture of real meat, but they’re working on it.
There is one big question that they have yet to tackle however — would anyone eat this stuff? If you could go to Publix and buy a package of ground “beef” that looked and tasted like the real thing but came from a petri dish, would you be willing to substitute it for a traditional dead cow burger? A survey conducted in 2014 revealed that just 20 percent of Americans would be willing to eat lab-grown meat. That is not a promising statistic. Scientists are optimistic that they’ll get the taste (and the exorbitant cost) of the lab meat sorted out in a few years, and hopefully by then people will be more open to giving it a shot. Until that happens though, maybe America should learn to appreciate vegetables a little more.