Meat might be tasty, but it’s definitely got its faults. For one, slaughtering innocent animals to consume their flesh has its moral implications. But apart from that, it isn’t doing the planet any favors. According to the UN, the methane gas created by the global cattle population alone puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than automobiles. Yet there could be a middle ground to appease those who love meat while also lessening its negative side-effects. Memphis Meats has been trying to cook up gastro-enviro-salvation in a petri dish with kill-free meat.
As opposed to raising an animal on a farm and slaughtering it, animal protein cells are administers oxygen and nutrients like sugars and minerals before growing into steak-sized samples. This entire process takes between nine and 21 days, with the company’s CEO Uma Valeti assuring the world that this is not only cruelty-free, but also sustainable. Valeti boasts of what she calls “the meatball that changed the world”. Memphis Meats has claimed that their process creates 90% less greenhouse gas than traditional agriculture. It has yet to be seen how warmly consumers will receive “pan-grown meatballs”, but it’s also comforting to know that meat will be served.
The question does arise: if everybody were to go vegetarian, what would happen to the millions upon millions of animals currently being farmed for their meat? Would they be simply let go? That would create a massive population of feral animals, often at the expense of local wildlife, which would wreak havoc on the environment. Would they simply all be killed? En masse slaughter of livestock seems to defeat the purpose of not eating meat any more. The most humane option would be to sterilize livestock being raised for meat so they wouldn’t continue to breed, yet that would be extremely costly to carry out, and taking care of those sterilized animals until they died would be even more expensive. While there’s no doubt no easy answer, it will be interesting to see what role this new development will play.