In our last blog on this subject, we talked about the two categories of unconventional meats and understood the difference between them. We discussed mock meats made from plant proteins and lab-grown meats developed by culturing animal cells. Lab-grown meat is also called cultured meat. But the question that many of our readers are worried about is, “Is Lab Grown Meat Vegan?”.
In this blog, we would answer the question, ‘is lab-grown meat Vegan’? Why and why not? Well, the answer is that lab-grown meat is generally neither vegan nor cruelty-free. But there are exceptions.
As we discussed in the previous blog on Mock meat and lab-grown meat, lab-grown meat is created by culturing animal cells. The cells that have a high rate of proliferation are placed in a nutrient-rich solution called growth medium.
The first person (Dutch scientist, Mark Post) who presented, world’s first lab-grown burger at a press conference in 2013, grew cells in an animal-based broth to make his lab-grown meat patty.
“Eventually my vision is that you have a limited herd of donor animals in the world that you keep in stock and that you get your cells from there,”
Lab Grown Meat: Vegan or Not?
The real threat to vegans in lab-grown meat is Fetal bovine serum (FBS) poses an issue for vegans interested in lab-grown meat. FBS is made from the blood of a cow fetus. It is also the most widely used serum-supplement in the industry for eukaryotic cells. Gross!! isn’t it?
In fact, the cells that these scientists need for culturing also generally come from some kind of animal torture or slaughter. Hence, more often than not lab-grown meat is neither vegan nor cruelty-free.
BUT Wait for it!! As I said, there can be exceptions.
There are some companies like JUST. Their process of the production revolves around making the whole thing cruelty free.
The JUST team waited for their pet chicken to drop a feather naturally. And they used that feather to create chicken nuggets while their pet chicken was roaming around freely.
It is still unclear, how it can be scaled on a commercial level. Because the cells cannot multiply indefinitely, and reproduce forever.
Tomass-produce the lab-grown meat, producers would need a constant supply of cells from live pigs, cows, chickens and other animals from which to take cells.
So the lab-grown meat needs cells from live animals. It also needs a medium that has been made with animal broth for sustainable growth of the animal cells and fast multiplication.
This shows that lab-grown meat is far from vegan or cruelty-free. Those who are trying to make it completely cruelty-free face difficulty in making it economically, commercially and technically viable. But things might improve in future. Since there are thousands of lab-grown meat companies coming up in India and the world.
Although, it is definitely going to reduce animal slaughter, the pressure on natural resources. But we can not be sure of the energy conversion ratio. The complete exclusion of any kind of animal torture or exploitation also seems unsure.
So, if you’re a hardcore vegan and animal rights are your life then lab-grown meat is not something you would like to try or promote.
It can help hardcore non-vegetarians to make the transition though.