Cultured Meat Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/12/22 •  15 min read
cultured meat benefits and side effects

What are cultured meat benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are cultured meat pros and cons and how buying it will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on cultured meat benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about cultured meat benefits and side effects. This will include cultured meat benefits for your health and potential risks, cultured meat sustainability, if cultured meat is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if cultured meat is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about cultured meat benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Cultured Meat Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Cultured meat benefits may include:

Cultured meat side effects may include:

Additionally, cultured meat is…

Environment

Water footprint: low, some water is required for cultured meat production but unlike conventional meat it does not require livestock animals who consume high volumes of water and eat crops that require high volumes of water

Carbon footprint: low, cultured meat production requires energy but compared to conventional meat it eliminates the necessity of farm equipment (tractors, slaughter house machinery), methane gases emitted by livestock animals, meat processing and long distance transport, cultured meat can be produced anywhere making it more likely to be locally available

Destruction: low, unlike conventional meat, cultured meat production does not involve land usage, fodder or crop growth for animal feed, toxic waste pollution from animal excrement or feces, nor is there an issue of deforestation or high levels of destruction to land, water, soil and air, according to a Life Cycle Analysis study, when compared to conventional beef production, cultured meat has the potential to substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land use by more than 90% and water use by 50%

Cultured meat is…

Animals

Kills: none, cultured meat production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, cultured meat production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: one initial DNA donor, an animal that does not need to be killed or slaughtered but briefly used to obtain the initial DNA sample which initiates cultured meat development, the process of DNA extraction is quick and rather painless to the animal, comparable to a shot or needle injection, cultured meat greatly reduces negative impact on wildlife and ecosystems that is currently the result of conventional meat production

Cultured meat is…

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Laborers

Health and safety: cultured meat production is much safer when compared to conventional meat production, as there is no requirement for heavy, dangerous machinery, knives and other slaughter equipment that often causes workplace injury, there are no health hazards in the form of toxic waste (manure) or bacteria exposure, unlike what is experienced by conventional meat farm hands and factory workers

Living conditions: n/a

Wages: cultured meat producers will benefit financially, wages can often be lost with conventional meat production in the form of livestock disease, natural disaster, moreover fodder and feed, farm machinery, veterinary services, antibiotics, hormones and other livestock expenses are eliminated entirely, creating more profit for cultured meat producers and a lesser chance of financial hardship and uncertainty

Cultured meat…

What is cultured meat?

Cultured meat is meat derived from growing cells, rather than slaughtered animals. It is researched and developed by taking initial DNA cells from a living animal. Cultured meat is independent of livestock animals and eliminates the aspect of animal slaughter and animal usage entirely.

How is cultured meat made?

Cultured meat is a technology in which tiny biopsies are taken from an animal’s muscle. The it’s a rather painless process for the animal, which never needs to be slaughtered or used again. Animal muscle cells are cultured to grow more muscle outside of the animals’ bodies. In a production facility, the cells can be mass produced in a method similar to beer brewing, using water and feed for growth. Nutrient-rich liquid feed, AKA growth media, includes energy (sugars, fats), vitamins and minerals, protein building blocks (amino acids), and growth stimuli (growth factor proteins).

What cultured meat products are there?

Grown from the molecule, innovative, slaughter free, cultured meat meat products can include, but are not limited to pork, beef, chicken, elk, lamb, bison, Wagyu beef, grouper fish and additional fish species and other seafood.

Is cultured meat halal?

At this time, there is no definitive answer as to whether cultured meat is halal since technology is still under development. Halal status of cultured meat will depend on specific aspects of the production process. Halal certification is likely possible if products avoid non-halal ingredients.

Is cultured meat kosher?

At this time, there is no definitive answer, as to whether cultured meat is kosher since technology is still under development. In theory, there is no reason why cell-cultured meat could not be kosher. Kosher status factors include the source of the starter cells and production methods. Eminent rabbinic authorities are currently analyzing the issues to determine whether cultured meat can be kosher.

Where does most cultured meat come from?

Currently, the top cultured meat business, research centers and startups are located in the USA (namely Silicon Valley, California), Israel, Canada, Singapore, Japan and a few European countries.

Is cultured meat nutritious?

Cultured meat is high in protein, vitamins, minerals and has the ability to be lower in fat and cholesterol than conventional animal meat.

How long does it take to produce cultured meat?

It takes around 3-4 weeks to produce cultured meat -much more efficient than the 2-3 years it takes to raise and slaughter livestock!

Is cultured meat GMO?

No. Cultured meat is non GMO. Additionally, cultured meat uses no antibiotics and greatly reduces risk for pathogens and contaminants, which is often an issue for conventional meat.

What are other names for cultured meat?

Other names for cultured meat include: cell based meat, cultivated meat, healthy meat, slaughter-free meat, in vitro meat, vat-grown meat, lab-grown meat, cell-based meat, clean meat, synthetic meat.

What are some cultured meat companies and startups?

Top cultured meat companies and startups include:

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cultured meat is likely acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is cultured meat alkaline or acidic?

Cultured meat is likely acidic once digested. Meat is an acidic food group and there is nothing about the cultured meat production process that would make it alkaline. Foods that have alkaline pH levels tend to be part of food groups like fresh fruits, vegetables and other fresh, plant based foods.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

cultured meat is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is cultured meat gluten free?

Yes, cultured meat is gluten free.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

cultured meat is not a common food allergen. cultured meat benefits include being safe for most.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is cultured meat a common food allergen?

No, cultured meat is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to cultured meat but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

cultured meat has a low water footprint. cultured meat benefits include not requiring too much water.

water footprints of food and products

Does cultured meat have a high or low water footprint?

Cultured meat has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods. Unlike conventional meat, cultured meat does not require livestock animals who consume high volumes of water and eat crops that require high volumes of water.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cultured meat has a low carbon footprint. cultured meat benefits include not requiring too much energy or emitting pollution.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does cultured meat have a high or low carbon footprint?

Cultured meat has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods. Though cultured meat production does require energy, compared to conventional meat, cultured meat production eliminates the necessity of farm equipment, methane gases emitted by livestock animals, farm equipment (tractors, slaughter house machinery), meat processing and long distance transport. In theory, cultured meat production can happen anywhere and is more likely to be locally available.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cultured meat is sustainable.

cultured meat benefits include being sustainable

Overall, is cultured meat eco friendly and sustainable?

Yes, cultured meat production is relatively sustainable. Unlike conventional meat, cultured meat does not involve land usage, fodder or crop growth for animal feed or toxic waste pollution from animal excrement or feces. Furthermore, cultured meat production does not involve deforestation or high levels of destruction to land, water, soil and air in the manner of conventional meat.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

cultured meat is vegan.

cultured meat benefits include being vegan

Is cultured meat vegan?

Yes, cultured meat is vegan. No animals must die in order to produce cultured meat. 

Cultured meat production requires one initial DNA donor, an animal that does not need to be killed or slaughtered but briefly used to obtain the initial DNA sample which initiates cultured meat development. The process of DNA extraction is quick and rather painless to the animal, comparable to a shot or needle injection.

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

cultured meat may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is cultured meat a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are no concerns with cultured meat production. It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about cultured meat benefits and side effects.

Sources:

USDA/FDA Launches Joint Webinar on Roles and Responsibilities for Cultured Animal Cell Human and Animal Food Products

LCA study conducted by CE Delft

Lab-Grown Meat a Reality, But Who Will Eat It?, NPR

Current Issues and Technical Advances in Cultured Meat Production: A Review

Lab-grown fish makes a debut in Hong Kong

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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