Via Jonah Goldberg and The Corner comes a pointer to this story about muscle tissue grown in the laboratory, that is, the yummy side of beef without all the messiness of shoveling 20 pounds of manure per Angus or having to put up with cows’ unceasingly tedious conversations about whether Aristotelian philosophy can still be employed in epistemological investigations in the post-enlightenment world .

The most interesting societal question that this research raises is what kind of ramifications will it have for the moral and environmental rationales of vegetarian/vegan movement, and from my personal experience (although this might be a result of living in Berkeley), those two issues inform the majority of vegetarians (and, for just about every single vegan, I would guess that the former is the motivating factor) .

Assuming that the process of “industrial meat production” can be sufficiently streamlined so as to make it more economical than raising livestock, the possibilities for reclaiming untold acres doing away with tons and tons of waste products would be staggering . Those biting their nails over cow farts destroying the ozone layer could finally rest easy. At the very least, driving by Harris Ranch on the Interstate 5 wouldn’t be so unpleasant.

And what of those who will only eat something without a face? Well, a side of beef grown in a factory certainly fits that bill, don’t it? As of now, however, the technology is still based on taking samples of meat from the old fashioned brand of meat factory (the one with four legs and a propensity to moo). Even if that means the cow doesn’t have to be slaughtered (not very likely), still you’re talking about carving the sucker up to a certain extent.

What I think will be the most likely result if and when this practice becomes widespread is not that too many veggies or vegies change their ways, but rather that many fewer new people covert to the cow-hugging lifestyle, meaning that, in the span of a few generations, their ranks will shrink to almost nothing. Because even if you still have to kill or “operate on” a few animals every now and then to get meat cultures (and I don’t even think that will be a requirement for that long), I think most people will be amendable to scarfing down a steak if it means only a few cows had to die to feed thousands of people. I don’t think such a tradeoff will convert the current ranks of most veggies because I think by that time the practice of holding to such an ideology (and probably having to defend it to others) will have entrenched them much more in their thinking that killing any animal is the same as murdering a human, and thus any sacrifice of animal life is unacceptable.

last update : 22-11-2017

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