I recently finished Clean Meat and found it to be a seminal book on the topic of meat grown using tissue culture rather than living animals. (This meat goes by various names, including clean meat, cell-cultured meat, and cultivated meat.)
The author Paul Shapiro’s research is detailed and the writing flows spectacularly well. The book helped me understand the people in the space as well as the companies and the possibilities.
Shapiro mentions that factory farms can lead to a pandemic; this seems especially relevant given that we are currently in a pandemic. (I also mention in my book Project Animal Farm that factory farms are breeding grounds for disease.)
Shapiro points out that the technology of clean meat isn’t as new as we might think—it is similar to that of beer breweries and growing bacteria for yogurt.
In the same way that whale oil and horse carts are a part of the past, it is possible that factory farms will one day be a part of the past. This will be a good thing, given that factory farms ignore animal welfare, as I document in Project Animal Farm. Clean meat can be like clean energy in that it offers an alternative to conventional production. The impact on the environment, animals, and human health would be tremendous.
I also enjoyed McKinsey’s recent report on clean meat, titled Cultivated Meat: Out of the lab, into the frying pan.
The report concludes: “Cultivated meat has the potential to replicate the taste, texture, smell, of conventional meat… Since developing the first prototypes, companies have been able to reduce production costs by 99 percent” in less than a decade.
The report expects clean meat to achieve cost parity with conventional meat by 2030. It concludes, “Cultivated meat has garnered significant attention as a protein source that can meet consumer needs with a reduced impact on the planet. That potential is real.”
I find the potential of clean meat very exciting for animal welfare and the environment! It is possible that in the next decades the meat industry will look very different, relying on science rather than factory farms.