Would You Eat Synthetic Meat?

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 31 2011 3:30 PM

Would You Eat Synthetic Meat?

106449296
Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The New Scientist writes that lab-grown meat might be a reality soon, with one scientist estimating that he is six months away from creating a sausage, a year from a hamburger. Synthetic meat could have all sorts of positives, chiefly that it would be cruelty-free and eco-friendly (“cultured meat will require 99 per cent less land than beef farming”). Vegetarians tempted by the siren scent of bacon would surely rejoice to indulge without the guilt.

But it’s caveat time. First of all, we don’t know if the synthetic “muscle-like strips” that are the precursor to full-on meat substitute will even taste good. At the moment, the strips appear “anemic and unappetizing,” says the New Scientist, since there’s no blood to give the material that meaty color.

Advertisement

Taste aside, there’s another problem. Vegetarians and non-veggies alike have embraced “natural” foods (even if the label can be misleading), believing them to be more wholesome than processed foods. Genetically modified foods, from crops to salmon, have become one of those divisive topics, like abortion and vaccines, that can provoke heated discussion among usually logical people. Lab-raised sausage may lose its appeal when would-be diners start to fret about the food’s unnatural origins.

But maybe if the bacon smells good enough, there will be enough of a market for synthetic foods.

Read more on the New Scientist.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.