If this winds up being the only sort of meat available, it might be what finally drives me to try going vegan. Assuming, that is, that I don’t just throw myself off a building.

Back in December, we learned that some scientists were working on growing “beef” in a test tube. The results looked unappetizing at best, but I was able to take some small comfort in the idea that the process was far from perfected and likely wouldn’t make it to commercial production during my lifetime. So much for that. I suppose you should never underestimate the creativity and resourcefulness of mad scientists. The future is now, people, and “meat” produced in laboratories may be ready for general consumption in the near future. (NY Post)

Several Israeli start-ups have joined a handful of companies around the globe trying to develop lab-grown meat, something they see as a solution to the needs of the world’s ever-growing population and burgeoning demand for food.

The product has been known under different names, including cultured meat, in-vitro or artificial and “clean meat” — a term advocates say underscores its environment-friendly nature. It’s basically made of animal muscle cells grown in a culture in a lab, a technology similar to stem cells.

And while “synthetic steaks” are perhaps not a candidate for everyone’s favorite dish, they could someday compete with conventional chicken or beef, an affordable price tag permitting.

They aren’t providing a specific timeline for this, but the full report seems to indicate that the technology is mostly in place and it’s largely a matter of bringing down the price before they can begin ramping up to mass production. (One tiny slice of their “steak” still costs more than $50 to produce.) Given the rapid growth of all new technology these days, you might see this available in stores in less than ten years. Perhaps even five.

So what are the advantages? Well, most of the proponents seem to fall into the camp of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. If you can culture your meat in laboratories you won’t need all of those cows standing around farting and causing the climate to warm up. There’s also the argument that getting rid of the cattle industry would free up massive amounts of land, use less fresh water and eliminate the need for all sorts of chemicals in commercially produced beef.

An interesting side-benefit comes to us from Isreal, where much of this research is taking place. The article refers to prominent Orthodox rabbis who have already declared cultured meat to be kosher. And since it isn’t derived from a slaughtered animal, at least one rabbi has already suggested Jews could eat cheeseburgers made of this substance and remain kosher as well.

Even I’ll admit that these all sound like positive things. And the planet’s population remains far higher than the number of people we could feed if we lost all of our technology to a massive EMP strike or solar flare. But still… we’re talking about “meat” cooked up in a test tube. It’s just… I just can’t.