New book promotes shift towards sustainable ‘clean meat’

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Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society has released a new book, “Clean Meat: How Eating Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World,” which details how ‘clean meat’ (meat grown from animal cells, for example) could help mitigate climate change by replacing polluting factory farming practices.

Farming, livestock, and clearing of land for agriculture are huge contributors to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and are responsible for approximately 14 per cent of global emissions. ‘Clean meat’ has the potential to radically reduce all three of the above-mentioned polluting processes. It can also address issues of world hunger, food-borne illness, and animal cruelty.

In the First Agricultural Revolution, also known as the Neolithic Revolution, humans domesticated wild animals into livestock, and transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of agriculture and settlement. In “Clean Meat,” Shapiro identifies the ‘Second Domestication’ as the bifurcation of animals from their cells, leaving animals out of the process entirely. Other clean foods can be built from the molecule up and yet another alternative is plant-based imitation meat.

The book describes the various actors seeking to commercialise ‘clean meat’—from entrepreneurs to scientists working in their labs. Shapiro interviews the founders of companies like Modern Meadow, which is growing a leather-like substance via fermentation and New Harvest—a New York-based non-profit that funds research in the field of cellular agriculture.

“Clean Meat” is rife with compelling (and persuasive) figures. For example, producing half a kilogram of beef requires about 6,810 litres of water while the Impossible Burger, which is made of plant-based materials, uses 75 per cent less water and generates 87 per cent fewer greenhouse gases than traditional livestock agriculture.

In the book, Shapiro takes the optimistic stance that factory-free farming can be normalised, but qualifies that a shift in mindset needs to happen first—to nurture increased innovation, advocacy, investment, etc.

“Clean Meat: How Eating Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World,” can be purchased for about €20 and is available online.

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