A you looking forward to Christmas dinner? Maybe to roast turkey with all the trimmings? But how would you feel if the meat wasn’t from a real bird but had been grown in a laboratory?
Yum? Or yuck?
That could be a real choice at Christmas 2021 – at least if you live in Singapore, the big city in Asia.
This month, Singapore became the first country in the world to allow people to sell “lab meat” – that is meat made by scientists in a laboratory. A company plans to offer restaurants chicken nuggets it says taste just like the real thing.
It’s pretty expensive for the moment. And in other countries, people are still working out whether it’s totally safe for us to eat before they allow it. But why do you think it might be a good idea?
Well, as we’re written about before, more and more people are eating more and more meat. And that’s not just helping make people fatter and unhealthier, it’s also really bad for planet Earth.
Of course, some people don’t eat any meat. Often they don’t like the idea of keeping animals on farms and using them for food. But for lots of us, as we look forward to tucking in on Christmas Day, it’s fine to eat some meat.
Eating less meat
However, people are also looking at all sorts ways for us to enjoy that kind of food without hurting animals or the environment. Eating less meat is one obvious way to help. We can also eat “meat substitutes” – made from vegetables like soy beans. And, some day, we may also be eating “lab meat”.
It’s made by taking just a few cells from an animal, so it would barely notice, and then helping them grow, with the right mix of nourishment, water and so on – a bit like growing a plant. Think of a chicken, grown like a potato…
Amazing, right? It’s pretty radical. But we need all kinds of radical solutions for a really big problem.
Why big? Well, farming animals for meat is doing lots of damage. Here’s how:
Greenhouse gas: Animals burp and fart. That may sound funny but it’s dead serious. Methane gas from animals adds to global warming, just like the carbon dioxide pumped out by cars, trucks, ships and so on.
Climate and biodiversity: To feed animals for meat, we need to grow loads more plants. People are chopping down forests to grow those plants, which is bad for Nature and adds to climate change.
Water: All of that farming activity uses huge amounts of water. How much? About 1,500 litres – or 30 bathtubs! – for just 1 kilogram of beef – or about 4 big hamburgers.
Antibiotics: Many farmed animals are given drugs, like antibiotics, to stop them getting sick. But the more we use antibiotics, the more bugs get used to fighting those drugs and so can be more dangerous to us.
So what do you think? Should we eat less meat? And will lab meat be a solution for you? Let us know what you think!