The world is in the grips of a food-tech revolution. One of the most compelling new developments is cultured meat, also known as clean, cell-based or slaughter-free meat. It’s grown from stem cells taken from a live animal without the need for slaughter.


Despite this, the public is uncertain about cultured meat. Scientists and high-profile supporters, including investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, are pushing for broader adoption, but it’s difficult to sell the public on new food technology – case in point, genetically modified food.
Do people want to eat cultured meat?
In a 2017 survey of public opinion, the Sentience Institute asked a representative sample of more than a thousand Americans whether they agreed with the statement "When [cultured] foods are the same price as animal-based foods, I would prefer to eat more of these [cultured] foods and fewer animal-based foods." Less than half agreed to some degree.


Strongly disagree 13%Disagree 15%Somewhat disagree 15% No opinion 10%Somewhat agree 20% Agree 16% Strongly agree 11%

强烈反对13% 不同意15% 有点不同意15% 没有意见10% 有些同意20% 同意16% 强烈同意11%

As a moral psychologist, my research explores people’s perceptions of cultured meat, both the good and the bad. Below I discuss some of the top reasons people say they don’t want to eat cultured meat, compiled from opinion surveys, focus groups and online comments. But I’m optimistic that champions of this new technology can alleviate the public’s concerns, making a convincing case for consumers to embrace cultured meat.


‘Cultured meat is not necessary’
While there is increasing awareness of the downsides of factory farming, this knowledge has still not spread to all meat consumers, or at least is not reflected in their purchasing behavior. Factory farming supports what many consider cruel and restrictive practices where animals raised in such farms are subjected to extreme suffering, and estimates suggest that over 99 percent of U.S. farmed animals live on factory farms.


Animal agriculture is also inefficient. Growing and feeding an entire animal for only part of its body is inevitably less efficient than growing just the parts that you want to eat.
Factory farming degrades the environment and contaminates local land and water, in addition to emitting around 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
The use of antibiotics in farming leads to antibiotic resistance, which could have devastating consequences for human health globally. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that over 70 percent of medically important drugs were sold for use in animal agriculture.


Some people who believe farmed meat is problematic would prefer a plant-based food system. Despite recent hype around veganism, the number of people who don’t eat animal products remains extremely low. Only 2 to 6 percent of Americans identify as vegetarian or vegan. And only around 1 percent of adults identify as vegetarian and report never eating meat. This figure shows little change since the mid-1990s, despite the ongoing activism of the animal rights and environmental movements.


I’d argue that the plant-based solution to factory farming is not a feasible outcome for the foreseeable future. Cultured meat might be. Individuals can still choose to eat a plant-based diet. But for those who are unwilling to give up meat, they can have their steak and eat it too.
‘I’m worried about the animals and farmers’
Some people express concern about the fate of chickens and cows, imagining them abandoned to die or released into the wild.


The time frx for cultured meat renders this consideration moot. Even by optimistic estimates, large-scale production is likely still several years away. As new processes are adopted, the demand for farm animals will slowly decrease. Fewer animals will be bred, thus the animals at the center of these concerns will never exist.


So what is disgusting appears to be somewhat determined by what is normal and accepted in your community. With time, and exposure to cultured meat, it’s possible that these feelings of disgust will disappear.


It’s early days, but a number of companies are working to bring cultured meat to the table. As consumers, we have both the right and obligation to be informed about which products we choose to eat. Yes, we should be cautious with any new technology. But in my opinion, the obxtions to cultured meat can’t hold a candle to the potential benefits for humans, animals and the planet.


Sheila Davis
logged in via Facebook
I learn something new everyday. I’m really not sure whether it would matter or not. When I look at the difference in the taste and texture of the meats from naturally grown animals raised today, it really made make no difference. Meats today compared to the years before the 60s- I will even say 70s - taste somewhat bland - chicken and pork more so. Chickens were a golden yellow as well as their eggs yokes and the taste and smell was sharply chicken - unlike whispers of chicken which we eat today, the same with pork.


Beef is not much better, and the ground beef is ridiculous. Those were the days when six blocks down the street you could smell the food and knew what was being cooked. Optimistic people born in the 80s and forward have no idea what untampered meat taste like, something my mother and I used to discuss often. So let them grow the meat in the lab what difference would it make - we are already consuming whatever antibiotics and chemicals they use in the food and on the animals now.


Joe Dirk
You present some logical and accurate counter-arguments to the general aversion of cultured meat. Despite that, I am somehow still not sold.
The picture attached to the article fuels my (illogical) aversion. It looks disgusting! You point out that disgust is in the eye of the beholder, and rightly so. But looking at the picture I cant help but suspect that the texture is completely wrong. Is there a range of textures that would be available, or would we be limited to a ground beef composition, or even worse, ‘pink slime’? Could we really have our ‘steak’ and eat it to? What about the flavor that the bones add, especially for gravies and stews?


I look forward to seeing more research and progress in this area. The future is always approaching!
Humans have been eating animals for many thousands of years. It will be a difficult task to transition to a form of farming that we have never used before. We are generally reluctant to change, in my opinion.


i also feel that this will affect the farmers, despite your counter-argument. Perhaps most meat is sold from a handful of front companies - but those companies still rely on the individual farmer to maintain the cattle. And yes, we will need to adapt (such as the taxi companies), but adaptation almost never comes easily. You would have to train farmers to become scientists - quite a career change.


Liza Whyatt
“Animal agriculture is also inefficient. Growing and feeding an entire animal for only part of its body is inevitably less efficient than growing just the parts that you want to eat.”
This comment is completely inaccurate. Farming is a business and every part of the body is used whether it is for food (for humans, pets, or plants), clothing (like your leather jacket, or shoes), cosmetics, soaps.


The author also lacks an understanding of human nutrition essential for understanding the broader synthetic meat industry. Nutritional needs vary by season, light exposure (location), sleep patterns, work load, and genetic make up. This is a complex system that we are *just starting to uncover. With this in mind, and a perspective that Mother Nature is intelligent in her design, these meats would need to reflect all parts of the body - nose to tail - since that is what we’ve historically consumed.


it will be a LONG time before the labs are able to craft something as complex and complete as an entire animal, not to mention as tasty. There is a reason pork belly, crispy (pastured) chicken skin, and grilled salmon tastes so good… it is GOOD for us.


Beer Ranch
logged in via Google
As one of the farmers that provide the cares for land and cattle 365 days a year, I’d like to ask for some documentation for a number of claims in the article. Specifically, the % of livestock raised on factory farms and how the only parts of the animals used are the ones eaten. In fact 97% of farms in the US are family farms, by USDA definition.I would also recommend people look up how BFS or Bovine Fetal Serum is used by this cell protein industry. I’d also recommend the writer visit a few livestock farms before writing about farms again.


Dustin O'Bryant
logged in via Google
Ultimately it isn’t going to matter if everyone is convinced to go for lab grown meat. Enough people are on board that it is going to be a profitable endeavor, and the end result will be meat that is cheaper, safer, healthier, and better for the environment. Once it is available in grocery stores at a reasonable price it will almost certainly be adopted at a constantly accelerating rate.


From what I can tell, most people who are opposed to it are older, don’t understand the science, are afraid of change, have an illogical aversion to the idea of lab grown meat, and/or are somehow involved with an industry that may be negatively impacted by this. The only ones that I expect will really hold out for long are the ones who are involved with an industry that may be negatively impacted by this, and that is because they have the most rational position…it threatens their livelihood. It is an unfortunate situation in that case, but progress must go on.