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Love chocolate? Then eat synthetic meat

Victoria Martindale
burger 300x199 Love chocolate? Then eat synthetic meat

(Getty Images)

A baby is born, novelty news followers. No, not that baby of Kensington Palace, but the nascent innovation of a Petri dish that stem cell scientists, a job not often associated with haute cuisine, has bequeathed upon us blessed mortals. An offering subject to almost the same levels of insane scrutiny in dish as baby Cambridge was in womb brought forth to save us from and for our sins.

At £200,000 synthetic meat is an expensive but anodyne gift described as ‘lacking in juice’ and ‘insipid’, not a likely candidate to grapple with the overwhelming woes of today’s world or to enthrall the most carnivorous among us then. Sure, we are all environmentalists now, trendily recycling our water bottles and hoping off a bus every month or so but the summer barbie replaced by loins reared not on pastures green but cultured upon laboratory bench tops? And yet, not even speaking as a campaigner with an agenda to chant, this blandest of banal burgers is onto a winner. And what is more, it will win you over too, devoutest of devout meat eaters. Please hear me out.

By 2050, it is forecast that temperatures could rise by three degrees Celsius as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that is hard to attach much tangible meaning to even when it is translated into a future climate of floods, droughts and sweltering temperatures. The trouble with the hotly debated global warming issue is that it all seems so removed from our own personal everyday lives. Its effects, although we are told are devastating, are out there, ethereal defeats of unearthy flora and fauna at otherwordly locations. We even question if it is really happening at all and what man has got to do with it.

With such nebulous threats as desertification, retreating glaciers, global security, ocean acidification and endangered species whose names we’ve never even heard of there is lacking something of the me, here and now exigency. There can be little wonder then that we feel unable to resist the urge to keep up with the latest trends and are reluctant to forgo the far flung holiday destinations.

But global warming isn’t just about things getter hotter over there, its consequential effects are far reaching and long lasting right here too. It impacts everything from our health to our wealth. In fact, it links everything on this planet. Global warming is a coming apolocyapse of such magnitude it could cost you your perfect cup of morning coffee and your heavenly chocolate indulgence. In other words, given the choice of Petri dish meat or coffee and chocolate, I know which I would choose.

Scientists now know that the productivity of wild coffee and cacao trees is tightly linked to climate change. The gene pool of these wild trees is essential to maintain and replenish the genes of cultivated trees, vulnerable to diseases, pests and deforestation. As temperatures rise, their productivity is falling and there is less and less suitable land remaining to grow them on. Unless we commit to serious appropriate action to curb climate change we risk losing two of the most precious commodities on earth.

So it’s a relief to know that the kind of serious action I’m talking about is at hand in the form of cultured stem cells. Its immaculate conception means it can take on the challenges of our trashed planet and at the same time avoid one of the most numerical forms of suffering all at once. If ever there was a win win situation this is it, except this is more a case of win win win win and win again if you count the burger itself.

With all due respect for its far from easy crusade, the green campaign seems too often to appeal for action that doesn’t at first appear to be of any direct benefit to the individual while simultaneously inconveniencing and depriving. It all seems rather counter innate self interest to trade off my handy fancy for an invisible ideological gain somewhere sometime maybe somehow. People will always be inclined to opt for the quicker, simpler, most pleasurable and will shun instructions from holier-than-thou eco warriors in sandals and Hessian who live in tree huts. All of which raises the question: how can people be incentivised to lead sustainable lives?

The increase in meat consumption is a natural consequence of a growing population- and while we may have failed to curtail birth rates no one would argue it follows to expect our fellow inhabitants to go without. There will never be enough meat to go around so we have a moral duty to come up with alternatives that provide nutrition in a long term people-planet symbiotic way.

But there will always be people who want to eat meat just as there will always be coffee devotees and chocolate lovers and what is wrong with wanting to enjoy the small pleasures of life. Those who do are more nourished and capable of taking the bigger steps the campaigners desire after all. It’s about living, flourishing and empowering and that applies just as much to today’s generation as it does to tomorrow’s and the next and the one after that.

Less ideologically, it’s also about being able to eat your burger, drink your coffee and enjoy your chocolate while still ensuring the same for our grandchildren. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike should embrace the burger babe for all that it is and all that it isn’t. Coffee aficionados and anyone who, like me, drools for chocolate should jump at the chance too. All we have to wait for now is the price to come down.

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  • johnyang

    After reading this blog i really think that people who love chocolate will really eat synthetic meat.


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