PETA which is to publicity what a shark is to blood made headlines for their puny 1 million dollar prize for affordable vat grown meat by 2012. Another way this prize offer could have been formulated would have been a 50 cent prize for the first spaceship to reach Mars by 2091. If you can grow affordable vat meat, then you really don’t need PETA’s penny ante million dollar bonus and it will most likely to be done by agribusiness anyway, so as usual PETA is just grabbing empty headlines, but for once proving that they don’t need to degrade women to get noticed. Good for them.
But over to the practical side of it, is vat grown meat actually better or more ethical for animals? Vegetarianism, Vegans and Vat grown meat all write animals out of the equation. This means no slaughterhouses but it also means no cows or chickens or sheep, except those kept on a handful of farms or petting zoos. This might sound prettier but it really isn’t.
If we are to take seriously the idea that we’re interested in the welfare of animals then at the very least this should mean that we would want them to be around. The economic viability of cows and chickens as a food source is the reason that there are billions of them around. Replace that with vat grown food and they’re gone too and while that might mean no electric prod death, it also means no life. Would we rather never have lived, just because we’re all fated to die, probably unpleasantly? Is there any reason to think a cow would make a different choice than we do?