With concerns on how meat consumption impacts the environment, plant-based food companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have gained a lot of popularity. But after plant-based protein comes a new meat alternative that actually comes from an animal – cultured meat.
What is cultured meat?
Typically, the bulk of the meat you consume is the tissues of an animal. So cultured meat, or lab-grown meat, is when muscle cells from a living animal are extracted, cultured in a lab, and finally these cells multiply to create muscle tissues. As such, cultured meat is essentially meat grown with the stem cells of an animal.
Without the need to slaughter animals, cultured meat has also been gaining popularity. It satisfies your demand for meat in an environmentally friendly way. More than the environment, cultured meat might be the solution to the increasing demand for meat globally.
As The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has forecasted, by 2050, the global population would have grown in numbers and affluence, needing about seventy percent more food than what is currently consumed.
With meat as a luxury, it would be tough for the more affluent population to move away from meat. But before you sink your teeth and decide to switch to cultured meat, check out these possible pros and cons with this meat alternative.
Possible con: mutation of muscle cells in cultured meat
As producing cultured meat involves a high level of multiplication of cells, there have been concerns about possible cell mutation in the process. Many are worried that the mutation process that occurs in cancer cells, might also happen in lab-grown meat.
Possible pro: reduces contamination by the digestive juices in animals
When animals are slaughtered, there is a risk that digestive juices from the adjacent digestive organs might contaminate the traditional meat you eat. But with cultured meat, there is no need for slaughtering. This greatly reduces your risk of contamination from any form of digestive juices.
Possible pro: reduce chances of E. coli bacterial infection with cultured meat
E. coli is a bacteria that is found in your intestines, as well as the gut of some animals. Even though E. coli is typically harmless to your body, if you eat contaminated food, this bacteria can get infected and cause abdominal pain or diarrhoea. But with cultured meat, you are less likely to be infected by E. coli and other contaminants found in traditional meat.
Possible pro: cultured meat as a healthier form of meat
Because reared animals are usually fed with antibiotics to stay healthy, injecting them with too much antibiotics could build a resistance against the drugs. On the other hand, for cultured meat, you would not need to worry about antibiotic resistance and therefore, possible infections.
Even with the possible benefits and drawbacks, it’s good to bear in mind that the above are potential impacts of cultured meat on your health. Suppose you decide to try cultured meat and unfortunately experience stomach pain or discomfort. In that case, it’s best to seek professional help to understand why your body is reacting in this manner.