The mysteries of meat

Lots of articles about pain-free in vitro meat lately. This, we are told, will solve the ethical dilemmas of some fraction of vegetarians and vegans, and fence-sitting guilty carnivores like myself — I cannot answer the moral arguments of Bernard Shaw and Brigid Brophy but enjoy meat too much to give it up.

We are also told that this a solution to an impending food crisis, where enough humans are demanding more protein than the planet can sustain if it were grown on the hoof.

One of my daughters is vegetarian by choice, and I’ve discovered Quorn, a vat-grown moon fungus which comes in a bewildering variety of meat-like textures. All of these are delicious: the nuggets, in particular, are a hit with all three of my kids.

This, for me, blows the “feed the hungry” argument for artificial meat out of the water. We already have plenty of ways to grow protein and make it just as delicious as meat, all of which will certainly be more economical than tube-steaks.

It seems that our consumption of animals answers a different urge than a simple hunger for protein. We want even synthetic flesh  to have its origin in living cells, no matter how token a variety of “living” these strange blobs will have.

Meat is not murder: it is sacrifice, and perhaps the real reason why vegetarians cop so much flack is that they have opted out of a communal ritual with very ancient origins.


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