What human herbivores think of lab-grown meat

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Lab-grown meat is the talk of the town these days, but what do people who don't eat the real thing think about its lab-grown counterpart?

As a long-term vegetarian and a newbie vegan, personally, I'm not interested in eating lab-grown meat. I associate meat with animal flesh and suffering, thus even meat alternatives that have meat-like texture make me queasy.

This is not to say I'm in any way against lab-grown meat. In fact, I'm 100 percent for it. If it reduces animal suffering and cuts down on the climate change effects of the meat industry it helps my agenda.

However, I'm only one herbivore and not a very fervent, outspoken one at that. I mostly let other people eat what they want and keep my mouth shut — literally and figuratively.

So, to get a wider perspective on how people who don't eat "real" meat feel about its lab-grown counterpart, I went where nobody knows your name: Reddit. 

My "findings" below are based on three subreddits: r/DebateAVeganr/vegan, and r/vegetarian

Here are the highlights:

1) Most human herbivores are not interested in eating lab-grown meat
Somewhat unsurprisingly, most vegan and vegetarians of Reddit share similar views as mine when it comes to eating lab-grown meat. The majority of Redditors participating in the discussion say they wouldn't eat lab-grown meat because it would remind them too much of animal suffering. And some even argue that lab-grown meat isn't technically vegan because:

a) The culture to produce the lab-grown meat is still taken from an animal without its consent.

b) Mammalian cells grown in labs use culturing media that contains bovine serum albumin — a component of cow blood.

2) Vegan is where your heart is
This comes from a "softer" approach to veganism and vegetarianism. For people in this camp, veganism and vegetarianism are about reducing the amount of suffering we bring to other beings. Thus whether lab-grown meat is technically vegan or not is just semantics. I think it's widely acknowledged that the end of factory farming is not going to come from changing the global moral compass, and these herbivores argue that lab-grown meat if/when its widely available will reduce suffering exponentially. 

These herbivores believe in "omnis" (what vegan and vegetarians of Reddit call people who eat meat) in the sense that when presented with the option to choose from meat that comes from slaughter and meat that has been grown suffering-free, most people will choose the former if the taste and the price is the same.

The most optimistic of the bunch, these Redditors believe that "clean-meat" is the technological messiah we've been waiting for, the saviour who's going to bring us closer to a vegan world.

3) The health thing
Some Reddit herbivores argue that vegan or not there is no point to trying to produce meat in a lab environment because eating meat is bad for you and it will be equally bad if it's been grown by scientists instead of factory farmers.  But the counter-argument to this is that indeed because it's grown in a lab, this meat can have any amount of vitamins, nutrients, etc. cooked right into its genetics.

4) Wouldn't trust an omni as far as I could throw them
The Redditors of this camp are hard sceptics when it comes to omnis. They don't believe people would switch to lab-grown meat even if it is widely available.  They think new excuses would pop up similar to current ones, like "you can only get such and such nutrients from real meat." Or that when lab-grown meat becomes affordable, real meat will become luxury "gourmet" food and people will be willing to pay more for it.

5) Something we can all agree on
Everyone would 10/10 feed their cat, dog, pet snake, chupacabra, etc. lab-grown meat. For more on vegan pets, clickety-click.

In true Reddit fashion, TL;DR:

Most vegan and vegetarians are not interested in eating lab-grown meat but support its production because they believe it will reduce animal suffering and the negative environmental effects of the meat industry. There are some who think there's no point to it because meat is unhealthy but others argue that because its lab-grown, this meat can be healthy. Some herbivores believe "omnis" will choose the suffering free option if it tastes the same and is the same price but others think it will only cause "real" meat to become a gourmet item. And finally, (almost) everyone seems to be on board with lab-grown pet food.

More about: Lab-grown meat / Vegetarian / Vegan / Reddit / Food

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