I am not very ethical about how I eat. I am not proud of this, but it is the truth. I am not vegan or vegetarian. In fact, I eat a lot of bacon and beef – I’d probably eat Soylent Green if given the option. I think the loco-vore movement is silly and think “organic” is a misnomer on nine out of ten things labeled as such. Most ethical foodies prefer “natural” and humane production methods. My question for all the ethical foodies out there: what are your thoughts on the very unnatural possibility of vat-grown meat?
Allow me to elaborate. Vat-grown meat is still a work in progress. But it is a real possibility. One of the scientists trying to make it a reality is Dr. Vladimir Mironov. He envisions giant factories called “carneries” that create meat the same way a brewery brews beer. One of his many goals is to be able to add taste and texture controlling features like fat and vascular systems to make his test-tube steaks as delicious as the real thing:
“It will be functional, natural, designed food,” Mironov said. “How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.”
Vat-grown meat is a godsend for those of us who are omnivores, but recognize the significant flaws with our current agricultural system. Many factory farms keep animals in inhumane conditions and the industry around animal meat is an incredibly wasteful and polluting. The current response to these conditions is to support organic, local and humane farming practices. The problem, of course, is that organic, local, and humane practices are economically inefficient, which makes the cost of ethical food prohibitive for most of us.
Yet I see vat-grown meat as presenting a significant conundrum to many supporters of the ethical/organic food movement: it’s too unnatural. Read More
I really want to know: Would you eat Soylent Green?
Remember (*spoiler alert!* sheesh!) Soylent Green is people, as Charlton Heston discovered. But no one ever talks about the rest of that movie, mostly because it’s kind of terrible. But for what it was, there were some cool ideas in Soylent Green.
First, a quick recap: In the movie, the earth is overpopulated and over-polluted. Global warming is in full swing and even rich people have to eat crummy food. The government hands out rations of Soylent products, which are awful, flavorless cubes and loafs of “soy” (actually plankton but really it’s irrelevant cause it’s people) foodstuff that look like red, blue, or green Play-Doh. When you die, you go to a death-a-torium of sorts where you pay a small fee, then watch a really pretty movie filled with scenes from nature and peaceful music. You die quickly and painlessly from a colorless, odorless gas.
Then your body is shipped off and turned into Soylent Green which everyone loves to eat.
Ok! That last part is traumatic, I admit. But Soylent Green isn’t The Road. Marauding hoards of hillbilly cannibals aren’t threatening to strip the meat from your bones. You die peacefully. There is no space for anything in the movie’s version of the future (people are everywhere) and cremation involves burning, which isn’t exactly great for global warming. So what to do with the bodies of humans in a world where there is no room to put them and everyone is starving? What to do indeed…
So, in the spirit of ethical inquiry, I’d like to do some thought experiments. We’re all rational, scientifically minded individuals. In what situations would a reasonable person eat food made of people? Let me set up some scenarios for you, and you tell me how much you’d love to eat Soylent Green (which is people) in that scenario. Here we go!
First some ground rules: Read More