10 Jan 2016

33% of vegans and 47% of vegetarians want to try lab-grown meat

Recently, I created a poll to find out how vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters respectively feel about lab-grown meat. Would they eat it, and why or why not? I wanted to learn more about lab-grown meat and its potential for future success, and how a person's lifestyle may affect their opinion on this unusual concept. These are the results I found.

Meat-eater responses 

Not surprisingly, the strongest proponents for lab-grown meat were meat-eaters. Of the 150 omnis polled, 81.9% said they would eat lab-grown meat, and 11.4% were unsure. Interestingly enough, 6.7% were opposed to the idea.

Why did meat-eaters say yes?

"It's essentially meat. Why would it be a big issue if I'm a meat-eater anyway?"

"I don't have any revulsion towards it, and it makes more economic, ethical and environmental sense than traditional meat products."

"I don't have any revulsion towards it, and it makes more economic, ethical and environmental sense than traditional meat products."

"If they can make it identical in flavour and cheaper, why not?"

"I like meat but I hate the ethical consequences. Bring on the lab meat!"

"Lab grown meat would allow me to eat tasty, tasty meat without contributing to climate change."

"Saves an animal, gives me meat. Win, win."

"It stands to be far more environmentally efficient, and is ethically superior."

"I'm not a vegetarian but I do recognise that the way we treat our animals is pretty cruel. If I could eat delicious meat without the moral problems, I'd do it in an instant (assuming it tastes good.)"

And why did meat-eaters say no?

"'Animal-flesh product' made me cringe. I rarely eat meat, mainly due to taste and texture."

"I don't think scientists would be able to mimic the flavour of meat from a cow that's eaten different feed or plants, which can give it a unique taste."

"I bet real meat is better for you."

"Not ethical, and I wouldn't trust it."

All of this isn't especially surprising - if somebody is willing to eat naturally produced animal parts, they'd probably be up for the idea of at least trying the exact same thing produced in a lab. It's interesting to note how many omnis mentioned the more ethical and environmentally friendly nature of lab-grown meat. It's good to know that even omnis are concerned about these issues.

Vegan responses

The idea of lab-grown meat has divided the vegan community. While 49.4% of vegans would not eat lab-grown meat, 32.7% would, and 17.9% said they are unsure.

Why did vegans say yes?

"No animals are harmed. Tastes good (probably.)"

"All the flavours, none of the ramifications."

"No cruelty is occurring so if I find something tempting, I see no reason not to try it."

"If there's no animal suffering, I have no problem with it. I probably wouldn't eat meat often, but it would make meals with omnis easier."

"No animals are harmed, so there's no harm in eating it. I wouldn't eat it all the time, but I'd definitely try it and support it, and tell others to try it."

"I became a vegan due to opposition to factory farming. If my meat was never sentient, I'd give it a shot."

"I literally don't see the harm in it, though I suspect I wouldn't like the taste anymore."

"It's not from an animal. No suffering, so why not try?"

"No animals are being hurt. I would still need to check the environmental impact of the new meat."

And why did vegans say no?

"I don't like eating dead animals, why would I eat fake dead animals."

"It's not necessary to grow meat in a lab to feed people."

"Find it gross and I understand that it is still just as unhealthy as real meat in most respects, although perhaps fewer bacterial endotoxins."

"No need, plant-based food is delicious."

"Eating a synthetic imitation of dead animal flesh disturbs me almost as much as non-lab grown meat."

"Meat weirds me out after not eating it for a long time."

"I would encourage those who eat meat currently to eat it, but after going without meat for two years I am disgusted by the idea of eating it again."

"Raised vego so the idea of meat makes me sick (hate mock meats for same reason). Think is good idea for those who physically cannot or will not go vego."

"Unnecessary. Overly processed. Unnatural. Gross."

"The DNA would have to come from a real animal, it would be like eating the clone."

Would you eat meat grown in a lab?

Half of respondents said they wouldn't eat lab-grown meat, and I'm not surprised. Many people avoid meat because of the associated health problems, and on top of this, after not eating meat for a while, it becomes repulsive. I personally wouldn't eat it for this reason - I'm happy with the diet I have now and animal flesh disgusts me. But I'd actively encourage the production and sale of lab-grown meat as an alternative for omnis. So many lives would be saved.

Vegetarian responses

The vegetarian respondents were more unsure of how they felt than the vegans and omnis, with 19.7% of respondents selecting 'unsure' in the survey. Interestingly, the majority of vegetarians said they would indeed eat lab-grown meat, with 46.5% of respondents selecting 'yes'. Only 33.8% of respondents said they wouldn't eat this new alternative, compared to the 49.4% of vegans who said they wouldn't.

Why did vegetarians say yes?

"If the meat can be made ethically and its environmentally friendly I'm all for it."

"As long is there is no suffering on the animal's behalf, I would like to see what it tastes like again."

"No harm to animals. Lower environmental impact."

"If the meat can be made ethically and its environmentally friendly, I'm all for it."

"I don't refrain from eating meat because I think it's not tasty. On the contrary, I miss the taste of meat very much. If I can consume meat from a source that causes little harm to the environment or animals, I'm very enthusiastically 'in'".

"No suffering, no problem!"

"I would love for this to finally be for sale. Sometimes I miss eating meat but I won't buy it because it is cruel. Animals won't be abused and killed so what is not to love?"

"Ethically and morally okay - although unsure about economic viability and resources required."

And why did vegetarians say no?

"The texture of meat is why I don't eat meat."

"Corporations would control the technology and the environmental impact of high tech may be worse."

"I'd be fearful of the negative and unhealthy repercussions that would come from this. Not an ethical issue but rather a 'I don't want it to hurt my health' issue."

"I'd be fearful of the negative and unhealthy repercussions that would come from this. Not an ethical issue but rather a 'I don't want it to hurt my health' issue."

"Don't like the taste of meat."

"I don't eat meat because of health problems. It doesn't matter where it comes from."

"Don't like the thought of eating animal flesh."

"I find meat repulsive."

What does it all mean?

The reasons for eating or not eating lab-grown meat given by the vegetarian respondents are very similar to those given by the vegan respondents. The difference is that significantly more vegetarians are in favour of the idea than vegans. I have a hypothesis about why this is. Most vegetarians don't eat meat because they don't want animals to suffer and die. That's why I first became vegetarian. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't like meat. Many say they enjoy the taste of meat and would happily eat meat if it didn't cause suffering. So when lab-grown meat comes along, you'd assume they'd be all for it - except for the vegos who don't like the taste or texture. Vegans, it seems, are a little different. Many of us are disgusted by what meat actually is and find flesh repulsive. That's why, I think, most vegans won't eat lab-grown meat.

As I said earlier, I wouldn't eat it. It's gross. I can't stand the smell or sight of meat, although I do eat meat alternatives. I just really don't want to eat flesh. But given the information we know so far, I don't have any problems with other people eating lab-grown meat. I wholeheartedly encourage it and I think its production will change the world for the better. So many animal lives will be saved, and humans will be spared the horror of working in slaughterhouses. And 82% of meat-eaters support the idea. How good is that? A future with significantly less animal suffering or exploitation is well within our grasp. And personally, I can't wait.

To see all of the poll responses, click here.