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!