More than 70 billion animals are farmed for food each year, most in conditions that mean they can’t live good lives. Which begs the question: Could “Clean” Meat Be The Solution To End Factory Farming And Help The Planet
Pigs, in particular, are reared in extremely cruel, intensive conditions on barren factory farms to meet increasing demands for cheap pork around the world. Most of these pigs never feel the earth beneath their feet. Three in four mother pigs spend their entire lives in steel cages no bigger than an average fridge.
Mother pigs are treated as breeding machines, inseminated in their steel cages, given restricted amounts of food to avoid complications giving birth to large numbers of piglets, and left alone with no comfort or ability to nest. Many are constantly hungry, frustrated, depressed and scared.
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When the piglets are born, they are taken from their mothers at just three weeks of age and endure painful mutilations often with no pain relief. Hundreds of millions of piglets are born into a lifetime of suffering ending only when they are slaughtered.
Pigs raised for meat on factory farms are squished together in concrete pens, with no room to move, play, explore, or exhibit natural behaviours. Chronic boredom and stress lead to painful sores, lameness, stomach problems, and even lung disease.
These intelligent, social, playful animals deserve better lives. And there’s an innovative solution currently being explored by scientists that could result in dramatic changes.
Lab-grown meat, or “clean” meat, is an innovation in cellular agriculture; it is meat that is produced by taking a small sample of real animal cells and then replicating them outside of an animal. It tastes the same as meat, because it is meat, but it is grown in a lab without the cruelty.
In addition to its elimination of animal cruelty for meat production, clean meat addresses other issues that impact human health and the environment. Less saturated fat and an ability to eliminate all antibiotics and growth hormones mean a significant reduction in many potential health risks, including superbugs and antibiotic-resistant diseases. Lab-grown meat is not yet available in grocery stores, but it is expected to be on shelves within just a couple of years. Eventually, clean meat will be cheaper than conventional meat, potentially leading to a reduction in global chronic hunger.
On top of all of that, lab-grown meat will impact the environment in at least three major ways. With an estimated 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions currently a result of keeping and eating livestock, clean meat means far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Lab-grown meat would require 100 times less land and more than five times less water than conventional meat. Finally, clean meat would result in less water pollution, eliminating the tremendous amounts of excrement from farm animals being carried into our lakes and rivers (and, sometimes, our groundwater).
Are you tempted?
In the meantime, here’s what you can do to help farm animals right now:
Shop better. You can help free hens from cages and change the egg industry by choosing cage-free.
Join World Animal Protection’s email list to stay up to date with how they’re working to protect farm animals worldwide.