Diners choose the vegetarian lifestyle for many different reasons. Ethical reasons often top the list, followed closely by health and environmental reasons.The recent renaissance of lab meat (in vitro meat or test-tube meat) might render some of these concerns moot. Let’s look:

PETA made the million dollar offer back in 2008 to the first lab to successfully develop a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro (lab-grown) chicken meat. They took some heat for this, but backed up their million-dollar-non-meat with ethics:

“People are surprised to learn that PETA is interested in lab-grown meat, but we have overcome our own revulsion at flesh-eating to champion a breakthrough that will mean a far kinder world for animals. One million dollars is a lot of money, but it’s a small price to pay for something that has the potential to save about 1 million lives every hour.”

Environmental concerns over meat consumption are tough to argue. Meat is inefficient. The amount of water, grains, chemicals, fertilizers, man-power, land, everything it takes to turn grass into cows and cows into meat and meat onto the grill at your house represents a huge amount of energy. And a lot of waste. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein. “Cultured meat” (man-made eat?) would greatly reduce this energy expenditure and environmental impact.

Health-wise, meat has its virtues. Essential amino acids, high amounts of protein, iron, phosphorous, Vitamins A, B and D are all readily available in meat. Meat also presents some risks – think Mad Cow, and Avian Flu. Lab meat contains all the right nutrients without the madness or the flu.

A slaughter-free, sustainable alternative to meat is very attractive. But would you eat it?

I’d love to hear from both vegetarians and meat-eaters—would you eat lab meat?

image credit: captainsvision.com