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.
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.
Sign up for our newsletter. Every week, we will send you the best stories about the world of doing good.
Join us for the second of our Kinder Conversations - the Sky has a Limit.
Following our investigation into the Future of Meat in February, we've turned our attention to the sky. We'll be talking about whether air travel can be more sustainable, and how.
We're delighted to be hosting this event in collaboration with our friends at TQ, the Amsterdam tech hub where we're based.
📅 When Monday 17 June 18:30 - 20:30
📭 Where TQ, Singel 542, Amsterdam
🎯 Why should I fly Kinder? To hear about the latest research and technology making air travel more sustainable. To find out what you can do to reduce the impact your flights are having. To share a drink with like-minded travelers, and sample some of our vegan snacks (including beloved Professor Grunschnabel ice cream, as seen at the Future of Meat event)
Here at Kinder, we believe that greener travel is one of the key ways in which we can tackle the climate crisis. Travelling green can mean a lot of things, but right now we’re concerned about the aviation industry.
If aviation were a country, it’d be a top 10 polluter - and C02 emissions from air travel are growing many times faster than any other form. We’re already in a very dangerous position, and although there are many potential solutions, we sometimes feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do about it.
That’s where Kinder Conversations comes in.
Kinder Conversations is a series of events which delve into the biggest issues facing the world.
At the Sky has a Limit, we’ll be bringing together representatives from research and technology, the aviation industry and the not-for-profit sector to talk about sustainable air travel. We’ll hear more about the problem, and a lot more about the solutions.
Plus, there’ll be time to get a drink from TQ’s bar (buying a drink helps our friends from TQ support more events like this), try some vegan ice cream, and chat to fellow travellers about the steps you can take to travel greener.
✈️ Are you ready to #flykinder? Then secure your boarding pass here.
I don't have a driving license and when pressed about getting one by friends tired of chauffeuring me around I usually say I will only get one if I can drive something cool, like the Batmobile or a flying car. Unfortunately, I might have to honour that promise as it seems that flying cars are finally taking off (alas, no commercial Batmobiles in sight).
Indeed, several promising startups around the world are working to deliver the "car of the future" over the next few years. Like the Dutch company PAL-V that showed off a limited edition of its flying car at the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland.
The PAL-V is a hybrid between a car and a helicopter (or more precisely, a gyrocopter), able to reach a top speed of 160 km/h on the tarmac but also get airborne in just 5 minutes, hitting airspeeds of 180 km/h over a range of up to 500 km. But since buying a PAL-V will set you back around € 350,000 I might have to pass on this one. Moreover, flying this beauty requires not just a driving license but also (understandably) a license to fly, and that's just too much for me.
Thankfully, other companies are developing vehicles that need no driver at all. Aerospace manufacturer Bell Helicopter, for example, is working on Nexus, an air taxi capable of taking off and landing in the middle of a city (whereas the PAL-V still needs a runway, albeit short, to get airborne).
Called VTOLs (short for Vertical Take Off and Landing), these aircraft aim to become sort of an Uber of urban air travel, bringing customers to the opposite part of the city or even to a nearby city in a matter of few minutes.
If you're at JFK airport in New York, for example, and have a meeting in Manhattan, instead of embarking on a 1-hour, Cosmopolis-style taxi ride, you could just hail a flying car and be downtown in 5 minutes.
Futuristic as it may sound, concrete plans to make it come true are underway. Earlier this month, German startup Lilium successfully completed the first test of its new five-seater Lilium Jet, an electric vehicle that, according to the company, will have a range of 300 km and a top speed of 300 km/h.
The reason electric flight is such an exciting area of research is not just because flying taxis will allow a handful of high rollers to drastically cut on their commuting time. Electric flying cars might be really good for the environment too.
A recent study published by Nature highlighted that, in some cases, flying cars could eventually be greener than even electric road cars, cutting emissions while reducing traffic on increasingly busy roads.
Moreover, developments in the field of flying cars could also boost the research on electric flight at large, including long haul electric flights, sort of the Holy Grail of aviation. And, as known, the civil aviation industry needs to find effective ways to lower its carbon emissions as soon as possible.
However, as explained by Hugh Hunt in an article on The Conversation that we republished here on Kinder World, "gaps in necessary technology and practical uncertainties beyond the cars’ promising physics mean that they may not arrive in time to be a large-scale solution to the energy crisis and congestion."
Let's get this one thing straight: most people prefer flying to other modes of transport, and we seem to do it more and more often. The airline industry is booming and 4.1 billion passengers have been transported last year. Almost every figure one looks at shows the impressive increase in flights over the last two decades.
Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Association for Flight Transport proclaims: “In 2000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months. Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure, and education. Aviation is the business of freedom."
However, this ‘business of freedom’ runs on fossil energy carriers as planes still almost exclusively fly on kerosene. Kerosene is a fuel produced by oil refining and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major product of burning kerosene. The 2-5% of all global CO2 emissions the aviation industry emits is caused by its fuel consumption (and choice). And unlike other fuels like diesel or gasoline, airlines don't pay taxes on kerosene in most countries — making cheap air travel possible.
In 2018 Europe’s biggest airline Ryanair became number 9 in the list of Europe’s biggest CO2 emitters and still claims to be the ‘greenest and cleanest airline’. Andrew Murphy – the aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport and Environment — argues that Ryanair the new coal when it comes to climate pollution. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, on the other hand, dismisses such claims by saying the claims are ‘’complete and utter rubbish’’.
Other airlines, like KLM who partly uses renewable jet-fuel, are acknowledging the problem but they aren't too far behind Ryanair on the list of emitters.
The growth of the industry is not expected to slow down. India and China are the biggest growth markets, the latter alone is building 200 new commercial airports in the next ten years. Moreover, industry forecasts suggest that emissions will rise by 700% until 2050 which amounts to more than 4% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.
If we want to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, every the average earthling has a quota of two tons of CO2 per annum but just a return trip between New York and Amsterdam generates three tons already.
Compared to other modes of transport planes are the biggest CO2 emitters per travelled kilometre followed by cars, buses and finally trains which are the least polluting. The CO2 emissions, however, are only one half of the medal. The impact of flying on global warming is different than most other transport as it happens in the air high above the ground where the processes that cause or reduce global warming happen. These include CO2 and nitrogen oxide emission but also cloud formation, ozone and soot as well as methane reduction.
The climate impact of the emitted greenhouse gases in the stratosphere are three times higher than on the ground. Flying also causes condensation trails and fog clouds in certain weather conditions. Such clouds can have a warming or a cooling effect on the climate. One way to improve the climate effect of flying would be planning better routes where warming clouds are avoided and the formation of cooling clouds is favoured — our current routes have an overall warming effect.
So, hypothetically, some flights with clever flight-route planning might even reduce global warming. However, as we don't have time to hypothesise, we need to find and urgently implement other ways to bring down the impact of flying, like using better fuels or even better planes.
This article was written by Eric Schuler for Kinder World. Schuler is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam and works on new industrial sustainable chemistries to turn captured CO2 into useful things such as plastics or fuel. He's also a photojournalist with an interest in climate and land-use change.