A Meaty Question

Already dubbed “Frankenburger” and “Googleburger” ( $325,000 in funding came from Google co-founder Sergey Brin), the world’s first test tube “meat” was seasoned, fried, and served as a hamburger to food critics in London today. Calling it “meat” is a bit of a stretch – more like muscle tissue grown from the stem cells of cows. Lacking fat, think of it as strands of protein. Grown in the lab of Mark Post at Maastricht University of the Netherlands, test tube “meat” has me pondering. Post is the first to admit meat farming is a long way off, stating it could be at least 10 years before the world could witness practical applications.


Staggering as those applications and benefits may be – inexhaustible food source not dependant on climate for feed or water supplies, produced without antibiotics, no possibility of contamination such as e-coli, freeing up land for the production of other food crops – there is still one burning question I can’t get out of my head. What do vegetarians think? Would they eat “meat” if it hadn’t once been able to bat eyelashes at them?

This is a serious question, one I’m unable to answer. All I have to go on is my vegetarian interactions. I’ve been told “I don’t eat anything that’s been alive”, meat producers are unethical, animals raised for slaughter endure deplorable conditions, and antibiotics added to animal feed are dangerous to your health. They way I see it – none of the above apply to test tube protein.

Certain the answer to my question will be a resounding NO from the meatless crowd proves interesting;,  I can’t say  I blame them, the thought of test tube meat hardly makes my mouth water. Perhaps Mark Post should redirect his efforts towards test tube bacon. Bacon is a powerful meat, stripped of ethical objections I wonder if vegetarians would cave. Any thoughts?

12 thoughts on “A Meaty Question

  1. I have been a vegetarian for about 15 years now. I do it for the health benefits, it has nothing to do with the animals as far as I am concerned. One of the main reasons I started was because on average vegetarians live 8 to 10 years longer than people who eat meat.

    • I love bacon too much to go the vegetarian route yet agree with you 100% about health benefits. It’s interesting – you are the first person to give me your reasoning. Not that it requires explanation – because of the line of work I do I’m faced with dietary restrictions on a daily basis, I would estimate 20% of the people at my events are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten/lactose sensitive. Perhaps the reason my first thought on test tube meat was would a vegetarian eat it. 🙂

      • I haven’t looked into this test tune meat. If they ever made one that was low in fat had no saturated fat and little or no cholesterol, I would consider it because Protein powder gets expensive 🙂

  2. Combine growing ‘meat’ with another new technological ‘improvement’ — PRINTING food (in a 3D printer) and you could revolutionize eating. NOT.

    I love the concept of vegetarians eating grown meat! Peg and I have our vegetarian interests but we aren’t died-in-the-wool, and we aren’t fanatics, and when we eat out as sometimes/often happens try to find the best option from whatever is available — but the sound of grown ‘bacon’ is somehow repulsive. I like the ‘everything is edible except for the squeal’ concept and while I may have reservations about eating meat the Polish blood in me craves pork and sausage from time to time.

    The bigger question I have concerns the entire area of manufacturing or engineering our food. There has seemed to be such a rise in non-germ/virus/bacteria ‘diseases’ — like for example ADD and ADHD — that I wonder how much if at all has our factory produced food with it’s additives and non-food chemicals contributed to our problem? These alterations may not kill us, but have they been on the market long enough for us to know whether they are contributing to health issues we aren’t yet sophisticated enough to measure or monitor?

    I think of the way eggs have gone from being the perfect food, to being terrible for you, and back again. And so many other food items that have been eaten for millennia but now are blamed for … well… whatever. Maybe it’s not so much the food as how we cook it, process it, store it, or metabolize it with other chemicals also in our diet.

    Just saying….

    A retired Photographer looks at life
    Life Unscripted

  3. I am soooooooooooooooo excited about this! It’s now feasible that inside this generation (or at least the next) we can stop the wholesale slaughter of beasts for our protein. Wouldn’t that be something!

  4. I buy my meat from a Mennonite butcher so antibiotics and growth hormones aren’t a problem. Also the animals are humanely slaughtered. I grew up in a forest and if it couldn’t outrun us it ended up sharing a plate with a potato.

    I can see growing meat for under developed countries but I think it’s just gross. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. Just saying…

    • You don’t have to convince me, I agree with the benefits of food for third world countries, people who can barely feed their families, let alone quibble over ethical food production or philosophical objections to eating meat. The thought of test tube meat strikes me as incredibly gross, and I grew up on wild game and bear liver.:)

  5. I will be watching how this test tube meat progresses. Not only is the idea just gross, I am concerned about the safety of it. As more and more things cause cancer, I’m not convinced that we aren’t actually creating this epidemic with GMOs in our crops and antibiotics/growth hormones in our meat.

    I hate the idea that the food we buy in the grocery store is adulterated and to my taste, lacks the flavor of natural foods. I’m no vegetarian but I think I might start t become one if this becomes our food of choice in the local store. I have already started shifting to organic for health and flavor purposes. So…tell me, why is real food so much more expensive than adulterated food?

    • Believe me – I’m 100% with you on GMO’s and adulterated food. I too find the thought of test tube protein repulsive. That said – in 50 or 100 years we might not have the option of pickiness. Drought from climate change, a natural disaster, any number of circumstances could force us to look at food differently. As for the exorbitant cost of organic or natural foods – I think more of us should remember or learn how to grow our own vegetables and fruit.

      • Yes, I grew a small vegetable garden this year for that exact reason after not having one for twenty five years.

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