Lab Grown Meat: A Revolution to the Meat Industry


Micole Abdelhak, Staff Writer

Animal consumption has served as a key aspect to the survival of the human species since the dawn of time. Whether it was the first humans two million years ago carving tools to hunt with, or today’s modern world in which store-purchased meat equates to just less than 50% of the average person’s total caloric intake, meat has always played a big role in the human species’ diet. However, since the world population has grown, meat consumption has increased rapidly and its production has become exceedingly unsustainable and unethical. Countless vegan activists who advocate for a plant based diet in order to eradicate the destructive meat industry are searching for solutions. But this often leads to tension between meat-eating and plant-based segments of society (I’m sure many are aware of That Vegan Teacher and her pervasive efforts on TikTok). 

Other meat industry critics, however, acknowledge that the demand for meat isn’t leaving anytime soon. In the past decade, dozens of start-ups have been experimenting with different ways to supply meat alternatives to the masses, which would allow for a more ethical and sustainable consumption of meat. One such start-up is Eat Just, founded by Josh Tetrick and Josh Balk. It has found a way to supply real animal meat to consumers but without immoral treatment to animals or extensive deforestation and carbon emission that often coincide with meat production. How? Cultured meat.

Cultured meat is constructed by using the stem cells extracted from a live animal’s muscle, and those cells are then grown in a petri dish. This might sound like a distant, futuristic innovation, but the start-up has already won Singapore’s approval, and Singapore is the first country to ever serve lab-grown meat. 

“It’s a way of eating meat without killing an animal, without tearing down a single tree, without using a single drop of antibiotics, without negatively impacting biodiversity, without accelerating zoonotic disease. … So, you get the good stuff about meat, without the bad,” Tetrick tweeted. 

While these meat alternatives prove to be more ethical and environmentally friendly, experts question just how much effect they really have. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, 15% of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the meat industry. Experts find that compared to regular beef, cultured meat is capable of lowering emissions by 80% to 90%. Pork and poultry, on the other hand, would produce about the same emissions as that of their conventional counterparts. Because the electricity consumption used in the production of cultured meat is high, using low emission sources in production would better allow cultured meat to be created sustainably.

Cultured meat is overall more environmentally friendly while still giving its consumers the same protein, nutrients, and taste as conventional meat. However, lab grown meat uses a significant amount of electricity and is not as sustainable as a vegetarian meal. Therefore, meat eaters changing their diet to incorporate more cultured meat and less conventional meat would have a positive impact on the environment, while vegetarians changing their diet to incorporate more cultured meat and less vegetarian options would have a negative impact on the environment. 

Eat Just is just one example of many start-ups beginning as alternatives to the meat industry. These innovations, which had once sounded foreign and futuristic, are not as far off as one might expect. Perhaps it will only be another year or so before lab-grown meat is selling on supermarket shelves and in restaurants throughout the world.