I’ve decided to start this blog with a commentary on meat. Not just any meat. In vitro style!
This topic has made its appearance multiple times in the news over the last three years, but it came back to the front of my mind after watching the documentary Seeing Through the Fence. Throughout the film, the documentary presented vegan alternatives to meat in the form of synthetic soy-based products. This is the most popular promotion in the ethical vegan community. It wasn’t til the end that the movie posed cultured meat as a viable alternate, should the tides of crazed meat-eating in the United States not change.
I find the recent ventures into cultured meat to be a fascinating and terrifying enterprise perfectly suited for imperial societies that deem themselves civilized. Even more extraordinary is the presence of some ethical vegans in animal advocacy who would vouch for eating animal muscle tissue so long as the tissue has never existed on the body of an animal. PETA, one of the giants in animal advocacy, offers a $1 million prize to eligible scientists who can make cultured meat and bring it in mass production to the global market. Though PETA’s the only one offering money, they’re certainly not the only self-proclaimed animal rights advocates who support in vitro meat. Rina Deych, who has published on the ALF website, considers it “an interim compromise, and hopefully, a stepping stone to veganism.”
If consuming cultured meat in our culture is the cornerstone of the future, then what is the future for real animals in society, who exist today? And what about their children and their children’s children? Are activists so anxious for people to stop eating animals that they are willing to support a budding industry that is directly linked to the artificial cloning and genetic engineering of animals, thereby destroying the integrity of what it means to be alive and be animal?
Of course, in vitro meat is not animal free. It’s like an herbaceous plant cultured to grow leaves without roots. Cultured meat results in a disembodied animal. Stem cells and satellite cells needed to grow meat in petri dishes derive from pigs, chickens, cows, rats, and mice (at least for now) killed by industrialized agriculture and vivisection. The difference is that the whole animal is missing in the tissue culture. And that’s apparently fine with PETA and Rina Deych and other animal advocates who support in vitro meat because as long as there is no quantified suffering involved in the direct experience of meat-making, it’s fine. After all, animal tissues and their meat cultures don’t “suffer.”