“Clean Meat”? – Two Animal Rights Advocates Say “NO”

[This mirrors my views on the subject.]

*Why “growing meat without animals” is NOT a solution: two views*

On Jan. 10, we published “Slaughter-Free Flesh for Humanity
which drew fire
from some animal rights advocates including Joan Harrison, whose letter,
Even ‘Clean Meat’ Isn’t Clean Enough,” appeared in *The Wall Street Journal*
January 13, 2018, as follows:

Regarding Matthew Scully’s review of Paul Shapiro’s “Clean Meat” (Books,
6): I’m afraid I cannot agree with my fellow activists’ enthusiasm about
so-called clean meat. The new technology may relieve animal suffering to
extent in the short term by using donor herds, which would suffer and be
enslaved to provide cells out of which meat is then laboratory grown.
this may end factory farming, which would be a blessing, it will do
nothing to
end the public’s identification of animals with food. Indeed, it will
confirm this.

The object is not to end factory farming; the object is to end animal
as such. The promoting of meat of this sort is thus a pernicious
of animal liberation. According to psychology professor and animal
Bill Crain, experiments show that people eating the flesh of animals
perceive animals in a negative light in contrast to people who don’t. Is
something we really wish to encourage? What about flesh emerging from a
bioreactor? Why not promote Monsanto’s GMOs? And what about developing
from human cells? If the latter is repulsive to you, and clean meat from
pigs, chickens and lambs nevertheless seems okay, you are still under the
of speciesism, the evils of which are well known. A simpler solution is
available, though it’ll take some time, one that is consistent with and
facilitate the liberating of animals both nonhuman and human: adopting a
plant-based diet. It’s already happening.

Joan Harrison
New York


*On Jan. 25, UPC President Karen Davis asked Philosophy Professor, John Sanbonmatsu – who will be speaking at our March 10, 2018 Conscious Eating*
*Conference in Berkeley, CA – what he thinks of “clean meat.” He wrote

John Sanbonmatsu, PhD:

RE: “Clean Meat,” I think it is folly, for several reasons:

* I think too many vegans are thinking of this as the Holy Grail, which may
subtly be taking pressure and urgency off of other modes of action and

* The framing of the discourse as “clean” vs. “unclean” meat aestheticizes
which is already an aestheticized commodity. The reality is, one form of
“meat” is based on genocidal violence, exploitation, and injustice, and
other isn’t. So it should be framed as a choice between violence and
nonviolence, not “cleanliness” in either an aesthetic or “morally
sense (as in, I have a “clean conscience”). One of the cafes here in
[MA] is called “Clear Conscience Cafe,” and naturally they serve grassfed
Angus beef, etc.

* I think it’s a terrible mistake to confuse the issue in consumers’ already
confused minds between “good” and “bad” forms of animal products. I was
in NYC
over the weekend, and one of the grocery stores had organic turkey and pig
sausages literally mixed in with the vegan “meat” products. So the
is, “This is where you get the ‘alternative’ and ‘healthy’ stuff, take
pick.” The last thing we need is to have ontological meat (i.e. flesh)
sold to consumers as more “ethical” meat.

* Most higher-end consumers will continue to choose “organic” and “local”
flesh over synthetic, lab-grown meats. Why? Because they are figured as
“authentic.” Michael Pollan sneers when the topic of syn-meat comes up:
who would want THAT? Just think about how educated Americans have been
steering away from “processed” and “artificial” foods for a generation.
now we want them to eat burgers made with lab-grown cow cells? No way. The
meat industry will turn right around and promote authentic meat even more
heavily than they do now.

* The whole synthetic meat movement is perpetuating the lie that the only
reason, or main reason, we can’t have universal veganism and an end to
agriculture is because there are no “good” alternatives. That, and the lie
that the reason people “can’t” (or won’t) give up eating animals is
animals just taste TOO GOOD. Well, I don’t believe that. Yes, there are
undoubtedly some people so hooked on the exact specific taste of bacon or
whatever that they will cling to it until Doomsday. But I don’t think that
accounts for most or even a big part of resistance to Animal Rights or to
veganism specifically.

* What’s going to happen with this stuff is precisely what happened to Whole
Foods and the whole “humane meat” industry: synthetic meats will not be
competing with cheaper meat commodities; this industry will be competing
the chi-chi market for specialized foods. So the price point is going to
set high, because that’s where the market is going to be most lucrative
(because this is capitalism). Meanwhile, as I said, if the typical
consumer is
faced with a menu of “real” chicken and “synthetic real” chicken, he/she
going to choose the real chicken most of the time, or so I believe.

* If humans think so little of the dignity or suffering of animals that they
can’t or won’t countenance giving up farmed animal flesh until and unless
there is an exact, one-to-one replacement, in taste, texture,
etc., then what are the odds that they will make any concerted effort to
switch to synthetic meats at all?

* Against the odds, somehow, we need to smash speciesism as an idea and a
set of
institutions and beliefs and interpellated identities. If we don’t
that, if we can’t undermine it, I think it’s going to continue to be Game
for animals, and all of the synthetic meats in the world won’t amount to

John Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Department of Humanities and Arts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA 01609


Register NOW for UPC’s Seventh Annual Conscious Eating Conference:

*What are the Most Compassionate Choices? *

Berkeley, CA, March 10, 2018.
Information & Registration

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
Don’t just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.
http://www.UPC-online.org/ http://www.twitter.com/upcnews

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4 thoughts on ““Clean Meat”? – Two Animal Rights Advocates Say “NO”

  1. I agree. At this point, “clean meat” is not clean. Some vegans have latched onto this idea thinking more people will come over to the “no meat” side of the aisle than without clean meat even though it means having donor herds whose body cells are used in labs. The thought that many unlucky animals are exploited to feed 300M+ people in the US and 7 B people world wide is unacceptable. Bill Gates and Richard Branson are investors, because agriculture cannot continue at the same pace or more and further fuel global warming. While I appreciate their concerns, this will not solve the basic problem. BTW, the ubiquitous “Lightlife” brand of burgers, sausages contain eggs which does not make them vegan. They need to take that component out of their products. Glad they’re non-GMO.

  2. Eating human or nonhuman animals, whether its their ” parts”, ” byproducts”, or cells, is anathema to the true meaning of veganism, liberation, or rights.
    All manufacturing of flesh, in a lab or on a farm, is exploitive ,and lets be honest, really just caters to our taste buds. Not to mention the time, labor and resources it uses; these would be much better utilized in the growing of healthy food, where other sentient beings arent exploited for our self- absorbed lifestyles.

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