Beef produced by cell culture


I completely understand your standpoint. Animals generally do have a will to survive. But they generally also have no regard for the lives of other animals. An elk or a cougar would happily kill me if they felt so compelled; the elk doing so defensively(they don’t normally accept scare tactics as being good enough, they want to end the threat completely), and the cougar doing so with the intention of eating me for sustenance. I feel no bitterness towards them for that fact, but I share their views. Other animals are outside of my life, unless they become part of my life as threats, as food, or as companions. I would not kill an animal for any reason other than for food or in defence.

The environmental impact is another issue altogether…I disagree that eliminating suffering exacerbates the environmental impact, because it means fewer animals producing less greenhouse gasses. More land use, yes, but the land doesn’t need to be clear-cut and grazing/roaming land can be used in rotation as crop land as well. If all meat farming made the switch to more ethical arrangements, then certainly meat would become less common in grocery stores and much more expensive and I’d probably stop eating it for that reason. Beyond that, the environmental impact of farming meats vs plants is hotly debated and I have not looked into it in great enough detail to decide my own standpoint on it thus far. That’s not because of my love of meat, though. I just haven’t gotten to that point in my assessment of my environmental footprint.

All that said, I do not in any way think that your opinions are wrong or misguided at all. They’re just different from mine.


Alas, even the current administration has just bowed to the cattle industry rather than mention beef’s terrible climate footprint in its latest dietary advisory. Nutritional guidelines are not “the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability," say the Secretaries of Agriculture and HHS.


As a thirty-year vegan and former molecular biologist, I just can’t resist wading in. First, please watch the video that began this thread. It’s long, but hilarious. What do they fry up their hundred-thousand dollar lab-grown burger in? Butter! They divide it into a few tiny portions. No one finishes, so there’s plenty left over. The reporters beg for a taste, but that’s out of the question. What does that tell you?

I don’t understand extreme reactions, like those of NanoTechnic. There’s nothing to worry about. Most likely, you’ll be able to eat as many animals as you want for as long as you want. Are you sure that you’re not repressing vegan tendencies?

Eating vegan is more difficult for some people than others. There will always be variation. If it’s difficult for you, what’s difficult about it? Is there a particular type of animal you like to eat so much that you just can’t give it up? Fine, keep eating that one and stop eating the others.

I enjoyed these philosophical debates when they first became fashionable in the 1970s and 80s. It’s remarkable how little has changed. Keep up the good fight, Sententia!


Even accepting your worst case scenario of “everyone” going vegan (apparently overnight), is one mass slaughter worse than indefinite mass slaughters? It’s clearly the better of two bad choices.

In the real world, if veganism ever becomes widespread, there would be a slow downward trend of meat consumption. Demand would fall, pressuring prices to become lower, disincentivizing further meat production, etc. There might be waste during the transition period, but that would slowly evaporate each year. I don’t think there’s any chance of veganism actually becoming widespread for generations at least, and universal veganism (if it’s possible) would be much farther off. I would guess hundreds or thousands of years in the future, if ever.

I stumbled across Sam Harris talking about the ethics of eating meat on the Very Bad Wizards podcast. He starts talking about meat at about 2:05:40. He even mentions Soylent! Sort of.


The burger in the video up top was made by a scientist named Mark Post. The burger project was funded by Sergey Brin, who was connected to Mark Post via a non-profit focused on artificial animal products called New Harvest. New Harvest continues to help fund Mark Post’s research; they recently landed him a $50,000 grant. The CEO of New Harvest (yeah, she’s the CEO even though it’s a non-profit) is Isha Datar. She’s a forward thinker about food like those of us who love Soylent. Here’s her exuberant review of Soylent from back when it was 1.0.

Isha and Rob were actually on a panel together at SXSW. You can hear it on SoundCloud. It’s a great listen. One of the co-founders of Muufri — a company New Harvest helped set up — was also on the panel. It’s a great listen. They talk about things like how in the future we could build cities anywhere, not just where there is arable land. I might post this as its own thread later because it deserves one.

New Harvest and these biotech/food tech startups like Muufri are doing fascinating, potentially super impactful stuff that fits really nicely with Soylent. In my mind, they are all parts of the same puzzle, which we might call solving food.




I already said, that’s not going to happen. Every one of our current stock of farm animals on Earth will be slaughtered. As more people gradually become vegan or vegetarian each year it will be uneconomical for the enormous meat conglomerates to produce as much meat each year as demand decreases, so supply will decrease as well.

@Prairiepanda Sure, I’ll just say the environmental impact of farming meats vs plants is not factually contentious, just hotly debated. It is, in point of fact, very clear.

Rotational farming isn’t scale-able to the amount of meat we currently eat, and demand is only going to increase as poverty decreases. It’s a great innovation in animal farming though!


deepriverfish - did you know that, under the right conditions, mammary cells lactate in culture? Potentially, another approach to producing real milk without exploiting others. I looked into it a few years ago. It’s a little farfetched, but considering the video you posted, maybe not much more so than cultured beef.

Imitation (or lab grown) animal products can be useful transitional foods, and I wish your friends great success. I’ve always thought of them more as novelties, probably because most became available after my own transition.


After doing some research(admittedly not much; just around 3 hours of research-sifting as I have midterms to study for) I have a better grasp of the environmental impact of meat farming. Beef certainly should be off the table(I don’t like beef anyway), and any imported meats are surely out. But, because of the impact of international long-distance transport, it wouldn’t make sense (for me, where I live) to cut out meat entirely, because achieving the protein and fat levels needed to sustain me from plant material would mean a large portion of plant consumption being imported from very far away. It appears that responsibly-raised local meat has less of an impact than plants imported over great distances.(non-local meat, of course, has a horrendous impact) If you live in a climate capable of growing more variety and can buy local, then total vegetarianism would be more reasonable because you can buy local to meet the majority of your needs.

As it currently stands, though, I mostly just have meat on weekends as school work has shifted the majority of my weekday meals to Soylent. Might be worthwhile to order vegetarian options when eating out, since I don’t know the source of their meat, but at home I’m still comfortable with the impact of my meat consumption, taking into account the limited produce that is grown locally. I feel kinda bad about tropical fruit now, though! It would be difficult to get all my fruit-sourced micros in good balance from just apples and berries, though, so I’ll probably keep buying tropical fruit.


Here’s the approach the Muufri co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi are taking:

“If you look at all the components, less than 20 make milk milk—give it the taste, structure, color you expect when you drink milk,” Pandya says.

Muufri will contain only those essential proteins, fats, minerals, and sugars. Pandya and Gandhi’s plan is to insert DNA sequences from cattle into yeast cells, grow the cultures at a controlled temperature and the right concentrations, and harvest milk proteins after a few days. The process is extremely safe, says Gandhi: It’s the same one used to manufacture insulin and other medicines.

Although the proteins in Muufri milk come from yeast, the fats come from vegetables and are tweaked at the molecular level to mirror the structure and flavor of milk fats. Minerals, like calcium and potassium, and sugars are purchased separately and added to the mix. Once the composition is fine-tuned, the ingredients emulse naturally into milk.

By controlling the ingredients, however, Pandya and Gandhi hope to make milk more healthful. The team is experimenting, for instance, with sugars other than lactose, which 65 percent of adults have trouble digesting. And it has engineered a more healthful, unsaturated fat that retains the distinct flavor of dairy. Reproducing that flavor is a prime goal for Gandhi and Pandya, who were not always vegan—and who say they miss the taste of cheese, butter, and ice cream.


Posting in a veggie vs. meat eater thread.

(I’ve never seen one online before, ever)


We all seem to agree that producing animal products without animals — biotechnological veganism — is a good idea, we just disagree about why it’s a good idea! :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, as humans we always need to find something to bicker over.

(and how does the venison I eat which we nab on our wilderness acreage fit in here? Let’s also argue about that!)

((The more serious an issue, the more humour I approach it with, BTW))

I look forward to being able to buy “lab grown meat” - no doubt it sucks now, but I bet that someday it will be indistinguishable from “the real thing”, as well as very cheap. Hopefully within my lifetime, but I kinda doubt it. At any rate, it’s a good ideal to aim for.



Personally, I’d like to see more meat-eaters take responsibility for hunting in the wild, preferably without weapons. Far fewer animals would be eaten, and each would live her own life up until the moment when some fearsome human leaps onto her back and sinks sharp fangs into her neck.


I agree, lab-grown meat(along with other animal products such as dairy) is a very exiting concept! Lab dairy appears to be more attainable than actual meat, but I think the meat is a worthwhile pursuit anyway. This kind of research has applications in the field of medicine as well, so that should help the general public get past the “synthetic=dangerbadcancer” thinking…maybe…

Wild meat tastes weird. Removing domesticated farm animals from the equation would make me a pescetarian.


I don’t know what your remaining life expectancy is, so I can’t say if it will happen in your lifetime, but Mark Post predicts that cultured beef will be mass produced and sold in grocery stores in about 10 years.

The fundamental technical problem was solved 2 years ago. Post made a hamburger in the lab that was physically and biologically beef, and that had the same taste and texture as beef. The only difference is that at the time, Post’s lab only cultured muscle cells, not fat cells, so it tasted like an extremely lean cut of beef. I’m not sure if in the years since they have figured out how to culture both muscle and fat.

Besides culturing fat, the only thing left to do is develop a way to cheaply mass produce the cultured beef. This involves designing bioreactors where a large mass of muscle and fat cells can grow. So far, Post’s lab has just been growing the beef on small cell culture plates.

So, the basic technological goal of making artificial meat has already been achieved. All that remains is refining the technology until the economics work.


[quote=“smeggot, post:44, topic:23872”]
(and how does the venison I eat which we nab on our wilderness acreage fit in here? Let’s also argue about that!)

Hunted meat is better than industrially farmed meat by the measure that your actions aren’t causing a short lifetime worth of suffering. It retains the problem of killing, which is that the animal has rights over its own body and life which you are violating by assaulting it.

edit: the other common meat problem, water and agriculture costs, aren’t present for hunting. In fact you may benefit the local ecology because of how deer are over-breeding, since we killed all the wolves that used so keep them in check so that we could have more deer to hunt.


Why would animals need rights over their own bodies? Aren’t we the ones who would need some right against them? If a stranger stabs me, wouldn’t it be reasonable to gasp, “What right?”

What are the candidates? Survival? Works for obligate carnivores and self-defense.

Others? Anyone?


Rights aren’t inherent, they’re constructed and granted by us. For example we grant legal rights to pet animals for protection from their owners. Since we grant cats and dogs such rights, and there are no significant moral distinctions between cats and dogs and deer, it follows they qualify as well.

The rights aren’t central to my argument, they’re a rhetorical device. The important thing is the animals’ will and ownership of their own body: animals don’t want to be shot and killed, since it’s their body we shouldn’t do it. The other relevant aspect is the close relatives of the animal who would suffer from its death, like if you were to shoot a random guy on the street he wouldn’t exist any more so you’re not causing him to suffer, but those close to him would.


I think it’s debatable, to say the least, that rights aren’t inherent. I’d call that an opinion. I think my version’s simpler, but I agree it’s not important.

This is just like grad school! :heart_eyes: