Vladimir Mironov's Lab-Grown Meat: Would You Eat It?
|Is livestock soon to be obsolete?|
Feel bad? You could go vegetarian, but that takes sacrifice. Luckily, modern science has a way around almost every dilemma. At universities in the U.S. and Europe, researchers are busy cultivating meat in petri dishes.
Dr. Vladimir Mironov, whose name seems well-suited to a Frankenfood scientist, is an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. He's been working toward developing lab-grown meat from stem cells bathed in a nutrient-rich bioreactor mixture for the past decade, according to ABC News. He and Nicholas Genovese, a research associate backed by funding from PETA, are working on customizing the taste, texture and nutrient content of "in-vitro meat." The going is slowed by lack of funding and high costs (right now, a single lab-hatched burger would cost tens of thousands of dollars to create), but their goal is to get their meat from the agar jelly to your plate as soon as possible.
Short Order asked two locals --- one who loves cows, and one who loves to cook cows --- what they thought about the initiative.
"I don't think that ethically there's anything wrong with getting lab-engineered meat, so I'm ethically neutral, maybe slightly positive on that," said Alex Cuevas, local animal rights activist and soon-to-be vegan restaurateur. "As in, if someone really needs to have meat, it's better that they eat that than to kill an animal and to cause suffering and environmental damage. So I'm more on the positive side on that front. However, I'm nutritionally opposed to it. The foundation of the nutritional reasons for being vegetarian is predicated on that meat has little nutritional value and a lot of negativity related to animal protein, toxicity in the meat, fat, and cholesterol. So I'd rather people go vegetarian, but if they're going to eat anything that's going to be meat-based, ethically I think that's a better choice."
On the other side of the cow pasture is Peter Vauthy, chef at Red the Steakhouse, where Michael Jordan and other star athletes feast on Certified Angus Beef Prime, the "top 1 percent of all U.S.D.A.-graded cattle." Surprisingly, he was similarly open to the entrance of in-vitro meat on the food scene.
"It's always a shock when new ideas and concepts come along. But as a restaurateur, if no one can tell the difference between that and a regular steak and it's cost-effective, there's no reason not to use it," he said.
Still, he wasn't sure consumers would be on board. "God bless PETA and their morality, but at the end of the day, people don't want food that's been genetically engineered. That's why heirloom tomatoes are in demand. People want things that are grown locally and that are sustainable products, which this might be, but I would bet that it's about ten years from being something you might find in a restaurant. I've gotten my beef from the same place for years, and I know that the cows are not being treated poorly. But if they can pull this off and make it taste the same, it would be something to consider."
And there you have it. Who would have dreamed all it would take to bring an animal rights activist and a steakhouse chef to consensus are some cow stem cells and a petri dish?
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