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meat shmeat

May 20, 2008

adding another reason to my list of reasons not to eat meat…

twice in the past week i have read about a recently proposed alternative method of meat production – lab grown meat.  i first got wind of this stomach lurching idea from the monthly PETA newsletter.*  PETA is offering $1M research award to the craftiest scientist who can bring commercially viable chicken shmeat to life.  PETA argues that genetically engineered meat, or “shmeat” as it is being dubbed, is a way for meat eaters to enjoy their fleshy goodness without the guilt.  ehhhh… i’m not really buying the guilt argument.  i don’t know any meat eaters who are suffering fits of guilt.  most meat eaters i know were raised on the typical american diet, so it’s just understandably normal to eat meat.  we are a product of our culture, right?  i personally never felt guilty about eating meat.  not prior to doing the research, and even after doing the research i wouldn’t put guilt in my top 5 reasons for not eating meat.  of course, i haven’t gone all the way with it either since i still eat seafood (with effort to avoid farm raised marine life). 

so this alternative is like human skin grafting, but instead creates chicken breasts or ribs.  they wouldn’t grow the whole animal.  instead, the man made shmeat would be focused on the separate parts in highest demand or “meat sheets” in the mass produced form.  wow.  i’m completely grossed out. 

thankfully, someone out there is wondering about the use of uncertain technologies.  the molecular biologist interviewed by npr wonders about the energy use in running the shmeat creation compounds.  what she’s said that i like most is:  “all our food should be grown lightly on the land, using the riches of the Earth and the power of the sun — not in a factory.”  i would definitely list nature in my top 5 reasons for not eating factory produced meat or shmeat.

several times here recently i’ve started to wonder about the benefits vs. unknown costs in the pursuit of science.  NB showed me an article published in the most recent WIRED magazine entitled Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green.  it’s an interesting read, even if a bit irritating at the same time.  as someone who has little capacity for understanding science, i can’t say whether i honestly believe the global warming theories out there.  i don’t believe it’s possible to stop it, or reverse it.  i believe it’s possible that the climate change is just a function of evolution.  but i also believe it’s impossible to know with any degree of certainty how our behaviors will contribute to diminishing our planet over time.  i believe it’s possible to identify ways of impoving behaviors which will be less damaging to our environment, which seems like a good place to start.  i also believe you can take a look around and see some unpredicted side effects of the premature use of uncertain technologies – cancer, (some) pharmaceutical drugs gone wrong, obesity via macdonald’s et al, ADD… 

i will save my concerns over recent talks of generating nuclear energy as an answer to oil for another day.  but not without mentioning one little factoid pulled from THE WEEK – at least 40 countries have approached the Atomic Energy Assiciation in Vienna about starting nuclear power programs, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt.  meanwhile, Obama is criticized by McCain for being open to speaking/negotiating with countries who have differing views from the US without first receiving a commitment from those countries that they will agree to the insistence of our policy… brilliant negotiation strategy Mr. Shrub, and shame on you McCain!!! 

yes, i’m a bit of a hippie.  i believe love, tolerance, peace and kindness are important virtues for living a good life.  if i can do better, i want to.  if i can do something that it possibly more beneficial than harmful to myself, others, animals, or the earth, i’m game.  this blog sort of took me on a tangent so i’ll go ahead and end it here.  so as to come full circle i’ll mention again, my stomach still lurches at the thought of shmeat.  just think.

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 *i am on the mailing list but often don’t find myself aligned with PETA’s viewpoints.  i did not go meat/dairy free for the reasons PETA touts.  i find the organization to be too extreme for me… and get a bit turned off by Pamela Anderson’s involvement of its promotion.  she just doesn’t strike me as the role model for educated choices.  nonetheless, i haven’t unsubscribed from the mailing list.  i peruse the newsletter as a good distraction from MSAs, and it is sometimes useful in pointing towards other valuable veghead resources.   

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