We would need five planets if the rest of the world ate as much meat as the US. 86 percent of nations are currently living beyond their means. Humanity is using natural resources 1.7 times faster than what the planet can regenerate in a year. This is the news we are faced with at an increasing, and more urgent, rate. But there is hope. According to the Adam Smith Institute, a leading think tank, slaughter-free, lab-grown meat could prevent a global food crisis.
Slaughter-free meat, also known as “clean meat,” “cultured meat,” and “lab-grown meat,” is meat grown from real animal cells through a process known as cellular agriculture. It eliminates the need to breed, raise, and slaughter animals for food en-masse, thus reducing the heavy environmental impact of factory farming. According to the institute, lab-grown meat requires 99 percent less land than industrial animal agriculture. This further supports findings released last July which indicated that a global shift away from reliance on animal agriculture could feed the planet.
“For 12,000 years humans have reared animals for meat. In the future, they will not need to,” Pirie continued. “This will release millions of acres of pasture land for other uses. It will resolve all of the ethical issues involved in the rearing and slaughter of animals.”
The report also uncovered that clean meat could curb other worldwide crises, such as global warming, by potentially reducing up to 96 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. The issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in the majority of factory farm-produced meats could also be reduced, as cultured meats require no antibiotic use. Some speculate that with more land freed up, the current housing crisis in the UK could be resolved.
While the prospect of animal products grown in a lab may seem futuristic, clean meat has seen enormous progress in recent years. According to Josh Tetrick, CEO and founder of the California-based food tech company JUST, the brand’s lab-grown meat may be available on the market by the end of the year.
Even meat industry professionals can sense that consumer preferences may change as slaughter-free meat becomes more readily available. In September 2017, China, the world’s largest consumer of pork, invested $300 million into lab-meat. Major US meat producer, Tyson Foods, is also seeing the potential of clean meat with investments in Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies Ltd. and San Francisco-based cultured meat brand, Memphis Meats.