Lab-grown meat. The future of a sustainable meat industry or another fad food?
Singapore became the first country to approve and regulate cultured meat for human consumption, when approving US company Eat Just’s “Chicken Bites” for commercial sale in December 2020. Although Eat Just started producing plant-based alternatives to eggs, the company has since moved into the innovative niche of cultured meat, animal tissues that are synthetically grown in a lab, and they join companies developing various cultured meats and fish products. There are huge environmental questions surrounding both the animal agriculture and fishing industries, both seem growingly unsustainable and companies such as Eat Just are looking to ease the strain these industries have on our planet. However this emerging industry has many hurdles to face, financial and especially in regard to consumer attitudes.
So, does cultured meat represent the future of green gastronomy or just a gigantic gimmick?
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Without doubt cultured meat represents the future of the meat and fish industries, as it will eventually be more equitable, cleaner, greener and safer. Cultured meat is clearly more sustainable moving forward, as animal agriculture and fishing have hugely negative environmental impacts. But especially when it comes to fish lab-grown fish is much cleaner, being free from dangerous contaminants that often find their way into out food chain, for example mercury contained in Tuna. Likewise cultured meats will be the best step forward for a post-COVID world, the safety improvements over natural meat are two fold, cultured meat is less likely to carry contaminants and will not cause the encroachment into natural habitats that is known to lead to viral transfer from animals to humans.