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The end of Veganism?

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 9, 2012

A recent story we covered about the plan to create ‘zombie chickens’, reminded me of a couple of other articles I read about meat being grown in a petri dish…well I was thinking do these advances mean the end of vegetarianism…veganism?

The anti-meat types had three main arguments against eating meat (or using animals for their products, like leather) 1) it is cruel to the animal 2) it is bad for the environment and 3) its unhealthy. Well, it seems that at least two of these complaints will have been dealt with by these afore mentioned developments.

The zombie chicken has no ‘real’ brain. What is planned (and yes, it is only in the design phase) is to develop a line of chickens that have no higher brain function. This could be accomplished by either direct genetic manipulation or ‘breeding’ from natural genetic mutant chickens. All that needs to be retained is the autonomic functions that control breathing, digestion and the heart…everything else can, and should, go. What you end up with is a ‘chicken body’ or zombie chicken. It feels no pain, so the conditions under which the body grows are irrelevant. This will allow for the growing of chickens in factories…like the Matrix. There can be no accusations of cruelty when it comes time to harvest the chicken crop, because again, regardless of the technique, they feel no pain.

The meat-in-a-dish, doesn’t even have the ‘its ancestors had a brain’ potential complaint…one could argue it is the ultimate in meat substitute. Meat cells are cultured on a growth medium. Electro-stimulation provides the mechanism to grow muscle in the texture to which we have grown accustom. Being only muscle tissue with no brain at all…again, there is no foundation for an accusation of cruelty.

Okay, but what about the environment?

Well, animals in the wild produce in orders of magnitude more methane and CO2 than ‘real’ chickens. Like the meat-in-a-dish, the zombie chickens will be ‘toned’ via electro-stimulation. The low levels of current required could be supplied by solar panels. It has the potential to have a smaller environmental footprint than most agricultural crops like…oh, let’s say Soya Beans which are notorious for the total energy input required to produce a usable end product (i.e. most soya is heavily processed).

Now, until the final process of producing meat-in-a-dish is settled upon, it still seems likely it will have a fractional foot print of current meat production akin to that of current agricultural crops. So it would seem the environmental argument no longer has the power it once had.

Lastly, the health issue seems to be a red herring or should I say red lentil, because the claims against ‘healthy’ meat (i.e. not eating fatty red meat) have been shown to be dubious at best. In fact, with the meat-in-a-dish, it is possible to customize the nutritional outcome (protein %, levels of fat and cholesterol as well as GM improvements like increased vitamin content) it would seem to be a nutritional winner.

Of course, there is also the benefit that if we can mass produce health inducing meat, it may provide a way to solve our problems with malnutrition and hunger.

It strikes me as time for our vegan and vegetarian fans to look bravely to a future where they will give-up their dogmatic pursuit of a pro-plant anti-animal crusade and embrace the NEW meat. Have a zombie chicken burger on me!

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6 Responses to “The end of Veganism?”

  1. veg-ease said

    I am a vegetarian for religious reasons. Yahova (give thanks and praise) tells us in the Bible not to eat too much meat and what meats can and can’t be eaten. I ask how many people take that into consideration? Zombie chicken I am not sure people care what they are eating as long as it is fast, tasty and cheap! Jah love yah…thanks for the info!

    • One should always be careful when using the bible as a source of justification. I might ask along with the passages about dietary habits do you beat your slaves (implying owning slaves is okay)? If you children talk back to you, do you stone them to death? I assume not, but why are some passages or laws necessary to follow while others you ignore or ‘write off’ as analogy?

      For example, it is a stretch for Rastafarian to claim that the bible sanctions the use of pot. Now, of course an argument could be made (as obviously it is) that is does but it is not the bible telling you what you should do or not but you using the bible to justify why you (or trusted person) already believe to be right.

      So, although I can appreciate your heartfelt and genuine appeal to divinity for ones dietary choices; appeals to fiction, be it the bible or Harry Potter, have no logical or real value. They can be interpreted to mean what ever is convent, as thousands of meat eating Christians (and Hindus, etc.) do every day. Sorry.

  2. james said

    zombie, genetic mutated chickens or petri dish pseudo meat – eeeew
    I am not a vegetarian, but I think I’d rather become one than eat that !
    besides, the real chickens that live in my back yard are not only very tasty, but quite entertaining :)

    • I think you may underestimate the fun you might have with zombies (guilt free i might add).

      You could use them for bowling…every pin is a ZChikn ™, where after knowing it down, they deep fry it for nuggets…Family entertainment and a dinning treat!

      How about a Cultured Meat ™ what was formed into chess pieces, As you decimate you opponent, you literally get to eat his pieces! Even sounds civilized!. OR maybe formed into the shape of a shooter glass, drinking games would never be the same – down your shot, then eat the glass! Fun fun fun…

      And don’t think of it as pseudo-meat…it IS meat and with the wide range of flavors you can get petri-licious ZChikn ™ or Cultured Meat ™…like Beef or Pork…but that’s boring, Thanks to GModing, you could have coconut flavoring or maybe pre-seasoned wasabi teriyaki meatty bits…YUMMM!!!

      PS> What do you ‘backyard’ chickens do that is so entertaining? Are they some high-wire acts (fun and thrilling for the flightless fowl)? No, i bet they do slapstick routines like the Three Stooges (i mean they couldn’t do stand up, how would they hold the microphone!?)

  3. PeterQC said

    As a vegan (of the Peter Singer type) I find this and similar stories interesting but also a little hard to grasp. Not having eaten meet for 20 years, maybe I’ve forgotten what I’m missing, but seriously, if you want meat but don’t want the resulting ethical issues, there are plenty of, to me, tasty alternatives. If one is concerned about the environment or the world’s starving, swapping meat for veg would surely be a better option. Now, the question is, does ‘zombie chicken’ meet both goals? It is an intriguing concept but the chickens (or whatever) still need to be fed grain or whatever (I’m presuming the muscle stimulation doesn’t negate the need caloric intake?) and generally this would not be as efficient at converting that grain/legume directly into food or indirectly as meat alternatives (if that is your desire). Not to mention all that chicken poop.

    As a side note, Don, I’m glad that in this article you referred to animal cruelty as one of the reasons to go veg. On the podcasts I’m pretty sure you referenced the act of killing an animal. As a good atheist, although murdering an animal for the fun of it is not at all appealing, death is definitely not the reason I don’t eat animals. As long as the animal is killed in a manner to limit pain, once it is dead, it is dead and that is the end of the story. What is ethically reprehensible is the way almost all animals are treated, especially in the factory farming world (and ‘free range’ is not much better!). For that we should all be ashamed and anyone that eats meat has to employ a little cognitive dissonance or pure ignorance not to feel a little guilty.

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