The Samovar

Newsflash: meatsacks already being made
May 27, 2007, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Ethics, Food, Frivolity, Morality, Philosophy

In a previous entry I posed an ethical question for vegetarians – would it be OK to eat meat if you could grow it without an animal? Well it turns out that people are already doing this. In fact, this man is already doing it:


At the moment, it’s not that appetising, here is a frog steak they made:


It is also, rather expensive:

The only problem was that no one was interested in eating his fish nuggets, perhaps because his tiny goldfish filets matured in something called fetal calf serum.

Matheny estimates that a kilogram of laboratory meat would cost about half a million dollars if it were grown in calf serum.

In order to make faux meat a reality, then, one of the first tasks is to develop an inexpensive ersatz nutrient solution from plants or mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms, for example, have already proved to be a possible alternative.

It also turns out that vegetarians have already been discussing the issue (both in favour of the idea, and against it).

Some other interesting links:

  • From Innovation Watch
  • The Guardian got in on the act (incidentally, it’s a nice case of nominative determinism that the Guardian’s science correspondent is called Ian Sample)


To my knowledge people choose to be vegetarian for all sorts of reasons. Rather like how people choose to be religious.

I spent a couple of years being vegetarian when I was much younger – mostly to do with the idea that eating this way was somehow ‘healthier’. In the end I just got bored with the limitations and started eating meat again sometimes, without any discernible difference to my health.

Meanwhile you have all sorts of vegetarian factions – for example, the lacto-ovo types, the ones that still eat fish, the macro-guys and serious vegans. And within those factions you will find people choosing their particular diet for many different reasons. Which can be political/health related/enviromentally concerned/personal preference etc etc.

I just reckon that humans are omnivores by nature. And that any healthy diet comes from having a good balance of the various foods we enjoy.

My problem with ‘political vegetarians’ is that they are just as extreme in their views as any religious fundamentalist. Also they are often hypocrites (as in, what are they wearing on their feet?).

Which brings me back to the idea of why vegetarians would want to eat any sort of meat at all? The idea here being that if eating meat that, um, was grown without an animal was possible? That just sounds icky to me. And way too over-the-top somehow. Taking far too much time and expense than, say, opening up a packet of lentils.

Comment by azahar

For sure lots of people are not vegetarians for ethical reasons, but I’m really just wondering about the ones who are. I have no idea if that’s a majority or not even. For my part, I can say that I would certainly favour production of meat without killing if it was safe and tasted as good.

Actually, health is one of the reasons in favour of this idea. Because you’re growing it artificially, you don’t need to worry about disease, so you don’t need to pump the animal full of antibiotics, or about the quality of feed for the animals, etc.

Comment by thesamovar

Frog McNuggets. Mmmmm.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Somewhat off-topic but check out Suicide Food.

Comment by azahar

Do you really think there are “serious vegans” out there who wear leather shoes? It’s such a silly accusation that we’ve all seen so many times: “Yeah? Well how about your shoes? Gotcha!” As though vegans haven’t considered that leather comes from animals.

And, by the way, you don’t need antibiotics to make meat unhealthy.

Comment by Ben

Fantastic link az! Great site Ben, really enjoyed it. I hope that was the intention. 😉

Comment by thesamovar

I quite like the site too – I’ve always found those stupid ‘Hey, I just can’t wait to be eaten’ ads totally bizarre. Pigs seem to feature more than most other animals.

Comment by azahar

Another interesting story: here.

Comment by thesamovar

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: