HEALTH IS WEALTH

What is lab grown meat and is it healthy?

22 November, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Lately, the consumption of meat has come under a lot of scrutiny and has become subject to a lot of discussions and deliberations. Animal activists, vegetarians, vegans, and now even health experts, are all against the killing of animals to make meat, and now scientists all over the world are obliging by coming up with a highly advanced solution to the so called ‘meat problem’. Lab-grown meat or cultured meat may be the future of meat and may negate the killing of animals and lead to a more sustainable and environmentlly frienfdly non-vegetarian society.

What is lab-grown meat

Rather than slaughtering animals, scientists will use the animal’s stem cells to create meat. Stem cells are the building blocks of cells and tissues, and by feeding them amino acids and carbohydrates, the muscle cells will be multiplied and grown in the lab. Once muscle fibers start growing, the result is an artificially created meat that resembles actual meat in terms of appearance, texture, and nutrient profile.

Is there any difference between lab-grown meat and actual meat

A few samples of lab-grown meat have been available to the public, and there have been mixed opinions. People who have tried cultured meat have said that it tastes as good as real meat and that it was hard to tell the difference in taste and texture. In 2012, a burger made from lab-grown meat was presented to journalists, who found the meat lacking qualities of real meat and being too dry, as a result of too little fat in the meat. It will take more time to perfect replicating real meat, since this is only the beginning of the technology.

Cost

Since the idea is relatively new and the necessary technology has only just been explored, the current cost of production is steep. The hamburger that was presented to a panel of journalists cost a whopping $325000 to make, but scientists forecast that as technology advances and the idea starts gaining more traction, the production cost will slowly start declining.

Are there any benefits of lab-grown meat

Lab-grown meat is more eco-friendly as compared to regular meat. It eliminates the need for livestock, which could reduce the use of energy by as much as 45%, reduce the use of land by 99%, and produce up to 96% fewer greenhouse gases. It will also be animal-friendly as no animals will be harmed or treated unethically. Moreover, it will significantly reduce the amount of water usage, as the standard production of just half a kilo of meat requires around 9000 litres of water, as compared to 94 litres required for cultured meat. In regard to health, it is too soon to be able to determine any benefits from lab-grown meat, and only time will tell if it possesses any health benefits.

When will it be commercially available

Scientists are making speedy progress in perfecting the art. Even so, it is a slow process which requires immense time, knowledge, lab work, and experimentation. With that being said, it is estimated that lab-grown meat will be commercially available as early as 2021 in some countries.        — Times of India

 


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