Will Meat Become Obsolete Some Day?

As I’ve said before, I am a vegetarian in principle, but a meat eater in actual practice (more on this later in this post). And like many people who are concerned with the welfare of animals, I find it a little sad what a dismal state the anti-meat movement is in. It is not considered at all in the mainstream. And if you are in the mainstream, you won’t be anymore if you advocate it, it seems.

That’s when I started thinking about an entirely different direction this debate can go. Meat is unhealthy. It may not be as dietarily unhealthy as we once thought. But let’s face it, it comes from a living animal. And if you eat it, you risk getting the germs, to say nothing of the chemicals, that animal once had. So is it possible, much like perhaps tobacco, meat will just be declared to unhealthy some day and outlawed on those grounds? Of course this presupposes that the country (and world) will be ready for such a ban. And it also presupposes that there will be a good, inexpensive source of non-meat protein available to the general public by then.

Obviously no one can say what the very distant future holds. In several hundred years, we may all have space hovercrafts and some of us may live in colonies on mars. So for the sake of my argument, let’s say I am asking if this could happen before the end of this century–perhaps the very end of it.

(And as for my views on meat, I am for its gradual abolition. Sadly, though, as I’ve said, very few people seem to even hold that view.)


There’s a place for all of God’s creatures…right next to the mashed potatos.

In the future, we may “grow” meat simply by culturing animal tissues and keep a relatively small stock of animals around to provide the cells to do so. No more ethical arguments against meat, no more force-feeding antiobiotics to disease-riddled cows, no more wasteful land usage… Theoretically, we could grow any cut of meat we wanted to, from any animal.

Of course, I could be wrong. :smiley:

I’m thinking that the majority of meat-eaters would be willing to give up meat if we could come up with alternatives that are just as cheap, just as easy to work with, and taste just as good. Being just as healthy would help a lot too. Until we have that, I don’t think the meat abolition movement will make much progress. Although some people will fight for the right to eat meat even if you don’t want to (and I do respect this position even though I don’t agree to it), I think they’ll be in the minority.

I also hope we eventually abolish meat eating, but I think 97 years is a bit optimistic.

I forsee a time in the far future where meat comes from huge writhing bio-engineered meat-masses where every cut is prime… milk I suppose is produced by vat-grown swamps of single-celled organisms, and chicken… seems kinda hard to get wings from anything but a chicken. I guess they still have to kick them bucket; but nobody likes chickens anyhow, so no big loss. :slight_smile:

I’m looking forward to seeing majestic fields of bioengineered meatcorn in the near future.

I envision a machine: In goes soy slurry, water, fiber, flavorings/spices, vitamins and minerals. Out comes soy steak, chicken breast, sausage filler, chicken nuggets, fish sticks – whatever – depending on the formulation. The “meat substitute” will then be fried, grilled, baked, sautéed or fricasseed to satisfaction. Each household will have such a machine.

Meat will remain in restaurants.

Question: if we can grow human meat that way (with the help of a few generous people who will provide, say, stem cells), would it be ethical to eat it? Because I’m sure a lot of people would be curious as to the taste.

Well, I suppose it depends if some of the more alarming theories described in threads like this and this about Mad Cow disease come about. If there’s a large, sudden surge in Mad Cow deaths in the near, or even far, future, I can see meat consumption plunging, especially if it jumps species to poultry and/or pigs. While it may not make meat “obsolete,” it would certainly help it along its way to the level of fugu.

Cloning steaks…

Ick. OTOH, I can’t see a moral objection, and I am curious.

What do other veges think?

Of course, if you tried to create genetically engineered non-individual-animal meat, you’d just have the anti-GM-Food people protesting outside your farm.

Given that meat has been part of the human diet for pretty much the entire existence of our species, I would say the likelihood of meat becoming obsolete is exactly zero.

The problem here is that it may demand as much or more money, for an inferior product. This “meat” may not taste as good, and could still have terrible problems with contamination. It depends too much on the specific system. Give me more than a pipe dream, and I’ll give you an answer.

We’ve given up other things that we’ve done for pretty much the entire existance of our species.

Meat become obsolete?

You need to super-size that argument.

Of course you people who love animals so will be appalled if once we replce our favorite meats the vast herds of cattle and vast quantities of chickens and pigs will dissapear as we no longer require them for our consumption.

Milk and eggs… well we can’t have those as they are biproducts of the exploited animals and contain that filthy animal protien. Besides we can have subsitutes there too.

Imagine that the endangered cow.
The rare rooster.
The roasted pig… oop sorry I just got hungry.

Hmm… I dunno about that, Shade. Any samples of anything “we’ve done for pretty much the entire existance of our species” (around 180K years for Homo Sapiens) that was AS nearly universal as eating animal flesh, and we’ve universally given up on?

I don’t think meat is so unhealthy. Maybe for some, but hey…migrant workers who pick the vegetables you eat are also peeing and dumping in the very fields they work in. So there’s all manner of funk in the vegetable world as well. And chemicals as well. Organic farming is too expensive to do on a really big basis. Face it. Everything is gonna kill us. Might has well have a good time on the way out, right?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind that risk at all. I consider it giving my immune system a little workout the vast majority of the time - the risk of consuming something truly threatening is pretty low.

Personally, I’ve got no beef with meat (as it were).

I agree. And I’d go further and say that meat eating has been a significant part of our diet since early Homo emerged. That would be about 2M years.

I stopped eating meat because of the terrifying environmental damage it causes. I think that will one day force meat-eating out of practice; of course, assuming we last that long. I don’t know how long it will take; it’s unimaginable that we’ve gotten away with so much already. Given my perception of human nature, I think we’ll go right on eating meat no matter what the cost. We’re stubborn like that.:slight_smile: