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Hey vegetarians and vegans - would you eat test tube meat?

And while we're at it, would any of you omnivores eat it?

PETA recently put up a $1 million prize to the first company to create a commercially viable test tube meat. The meat would be produced through the growth of tissue cultures. I'm curious if the vegetarians and vegans out there would eat this meat, as no animal would be harmed in the production process. For the sake of argument, we can speculate that the production technique is also environmentally benign.


Not really interested in a discussion of the pros and cons of test tube meat, more curious if there is even a market for this stuff.

Until they find a way to replicate the flavor and texture of kurobuta pork or pasture raised beef and lamb you can count me out.

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  1. No... not until Top Chef Season 30 or Iron Chef does a show using tube meat as a secret ingredient and shows the world how approachable it is.

    1. I vote no....i'd go back to eating REGULAR meat before i'd start eating test tubed or cloned anything thanks............

      1 Reply
      1. re: im_nomad

        "Test tubed" doesn't mean cloned, though. Growing cells from a culture is a standard laboratory technique that's been in use for decades, and it doesn't necessarily involve any modification of the cells. Cultured cells are used in many vaccines.

      2. I don't like the taste of meat, so no. I'd probably give test tube fish a try, though, just to check it out.

        1. Nope, I don't miss meat as it is. I have no desire to return to it regardles of it's animal or artificial origin.

          1. Vegetarianism is often about much more than just the harming of animals. Many simply find the idea of chewing on the muscle tissue of another mammal unappetizing, whether the mammal ever actually lived or not. However, for you omnivores, eating test-tube meat would likely be extremely beneficial to the environment. Meat production is one of the most energy-wasteful industries (yes, as harmful to the environment as car emissions!). Based on the fact that omnivores are already willing to eat the flesh of another animal, would eating the flesh of a cloned animal be all that difficult? What if you didn't know your meat had never actually lived?

            Interesting topic.



            1. Your question presumes that all vegetarians and vegans choose their diets for humanitarian or environmental reasons, but many avoid meat for religious or health reasons.

              I think it's a more interesting question whether religious vegetarians would be able to eat "test-tube" meat -- I suspect that some religions would allow it and some wouldn't, depending on the basis for the meat prohibitions.

              Finally, I wish people would ignore any PR grandstanding from PeTA -- if you do research on the actual positions of the people behind PeTA on animal rights you'll find they're much more interested in controlling the behavior of humans and making headlines for being outrageous (and suckering well intentioned people into fronting for them and giving them money) than they are in the welfare of animals. It makes me sick that they've positioned theselves as the go-to source for the media on anything related to animals.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                From what I know of how tissue-culturing works, it would have to include continued use of cells and growth factors taken from living animals, so it still wouldn't be "vegetarian." So I think the religious prohibitions would probably still apply.

                1. re: jlafler

                  It would depend on whether the religious prohibition was based on killing, like some Indian religions. I think vegetarian Buddhists would still eschew animal flesh, whether it involved killing or not, as it has to do with the actual consumption of flesh, and not the act of killing. Would meat that's grown in a vat and not slaughtered according to religious guidelines be kosher/halal? It would depend on whether the ritual existed because of factors having to do with the actual slaughtering activity. I'm sure it would keep Talmudic scholars arguing for decades, coming to various conclusions.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Yet more Talmudic commentary, oy!

                    I think vat-grown meat would still involve killing animals; in my comment I was opposing "living animals" to "animal tissue grown in vats." They'd be living until they were killed to get the proteins and serum and whatever else is needed for the growth medium. I think. I only have a very general idea of how tissue cultures work.

                    1. re: jlafler

                      I don't see why it would be necessary to kill animals to obtain serum and tissue samples -- it's done all the time in medical procedures. The question would be, would they bother to go to the trouble of working with living animals instead of dead ones, and I guess the answer would depend on the ethical and philosophical attitudes of the researchers and actual frankenmeat producers.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Well, I guess it depends on how much tissue you need. My guess is that for commercial production it would be orders of magnitude more than is now used in labs.

                        1. re: jlafler

                          I guess I was thinking of the tissue cultures as being like sourdough starter: you start with a little, grow it, then use some and keep some to start a new batch.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I think most tissue cultures eventually die out. But what I was talking about is the tissue culture medium -- the stuff that feeds the culture so it can grow. You can't make new cells out of nothing.

              2. The article doesn't make "test tube" meat sound very appetizing. Basically it sounds like what they're talking about is growing animal muscle cells in vats, and then processing them with gums and so forth to give them shape. Presumably you'd end up with something like a hot dog or a "chicken nugget." Growing something that resembled actual animal tissue would be extremely difficult because animal tissue includes a lot of different types of cells that are interrelated in complex ways. Could you grow something that resembled real animal tissue if it didn't have bones, for example?

                1. this has been debated in a lot of vegetarian food media lately, & while some folks feel that "it's still meat, and meat is still yucky," i've read a lot of published letters from long-term veg people who said that they would eat and support the creation of laboratory meat since it wouldn't have the ethical and environmental baggage of real meat.

                  from what i hear though, the frankenmeat, while edible, is not terribly enjoyable-- no muscle tone, no flavor, rubbery and insipid, a bit like meat tofu. i think they have quite a ways to go on this, though i'm trying to keep an open mind. i wish there were million dollar prizes for making agribusiness, fisheries and slaughterhouses more humane & environmentally sustainable, it would seem more constructive, since so many people seem so weirded out by the whole concept of frankenmeat.

                  related: bio-art is cutting-edge at galleries these days, see this link to a project which involves cloning frog cells to create "victimless meat," in at least one performance, the artists ate the cloned meat (in radio interview, said it didn't taste like much & texture was rubbery).

                  1. Um, none for me thanks. Frankenfood indeed.

                    Even Quorn makes me a little hesitant, so I'm not their target.

                    I actually can't imagine it being a hit with anyone. Anywhere. Ever.

                    It wasn't chicken I missed the first few months of being vegetarian, it was hamburger. The smell of some of my mom's best dishes drove me to "just a taste" when she'd make goulash, spaghetti sauce or cheeseburger pie. Maybe 30 + years later I simply don't remember what it actually tastes like, as I can doctor up veggie crumbles and replicate those recipes. Except the cheeseburger pie. Somehow I lost that recipe.

                    PeTA blurb: http://www.peta.org/feat_in_vitro_con...

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      I'm an omnivore, but this frankenmeat doesn't appeal to me either. I agree with soupkittens point about putting our energy (ha!) into making our more conventional food processing practices more humane and sustainable.

                      I don't mean to sidetrack, but MplsM ary--we buy Quorn at the co-op all the time and enjoy it well-enough but, I guess I don't really know enough about it to feel hesistant. What about it makes you hesitant?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I am a sissy of the highest order (or lowest, depending on how one sees it), "Vat grown fungus" just weirds me out. Yes, I've tried it, but I find the soy based versions taste better to me. And yes I know the fake-o "chicken" is just another highly processed, sodium laden product.

                        For me, fake meat is something I have every so often. Mostly I eat the same meals as most folks, just not with a meat. Last night was my favorite simple meal: a couple fistfulls of peanuts for mocktail hour; a salad to start; broccoli with lemon and a baked potato sporting a wee dollop of sour cream. Sometimes (if I've justified the need through exercise) I'll add in a chik'n Boca patty or a veggie Garden Burger to the meal but usually not.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          "Vat-grown fungus" sounds nasty. But that's exactly what commercial yeast is.

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          i like quorn nuggets too!

                          omnivore here, formerly veg for 7 years-- i won't eat chicken nuggets, but when i have that processed food craving i will go for the quorn-- i don't claim it's healthy, and it's absurdly expensive for what it is-- it's like potato chips, what can i say, i like it sometimes. i just think of the "vat grown fungus" as lots of wee little tasty mushrooms.

                          for the record, i always prefer veg meals with several main vegetable or bean-based components, a starch, possibly fruit, possibly nuts *or* cheese; rather than forming meals around processed fake meats and vegetable "sides." i agree with Mary that fake meats should be an occasional thing, i just like the quorn thingies as a snack once in awhile.

                      2. Um, no.

                        Part of that is based on the facts that a) I don't want to eat flesh, regardless of how it was obtained; b) I don't miss meat; and c) I don't want to encourage the human race to play around with life any more than it already does. It's one thing to create cells to cure diseases, another to do it so we can indulge our cravings (and make a profit, no doubt).

                        The other part is pure, irrational repulsion at the thought of eating something from a test tube. I know it's not cloned, but it still grosses me out on a visceral level.

                          1. No. I am vegetarian for lots of reasons, but the bottom line is that after all this time, the notion of chewing on meat makes me a bit queasy. I had Match recently (formerly AuraPro - it was wise of them to change that name!) and the pulled "pork" had such an authentic texture and gristle that it made me ill. (Of course, meat eaters would no doubt scoff at that -- it HAS been awhile for me so I wouldn't really remember what meat is like).

                            I have all sorts of mixed feelings about food technologies, bio-engineering, cloning, gene splicing, and all the rest. I understand that some of it can have incredibly useful applications, like feeding the hungry, but I also see how a lot of our technologies actually end up being implemented, and for what reasons, and so in the end, I think I'll take my food as natural as I can get it.

                            (for the record, I agree with Ruth about PETA. They're intentions are noble but they sure don't go about things in any way that represents the vast majority of vegetarians!)

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