People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced last week that it would offer a $1 million reward for a company to bring commercially viable test-tube meat to market by 2012.

Umm….what!? PETA doesn’t hate meat-eaters it turns out, just people who eat real animals. PETA just wants to help us omnivores “kick our meat addiction.” I’m not sure everyone who eats meat is addicted to it, but that’s besides the point of this bizarre turn of events.

Sure, meat production takes up a lot more energy than growing vegetables. Sure, Paul McCartney says I should stop eating meat to save the environment. But in-vitro chicken tenders just don’t sit right with me. Gizmodo points out that with test tube meat people could engineer in extra vitamins.

I’m pretty sure I want to know where my dinner is coming from. It doesn’t have to come from within 100 miles of my home, but it’s nice if it does. Slate brought up the valuable point that bringing something like fake meat to market is a lot more involved than just throwing a little cash into it. The FDA might want a say in all of this. According to the New York Times, the decision to endorse this prize nearly tore PETA in two. Of course it did! Think of all of the confused vegans out there. Some of them shun the very idea of meat, but others long for some barbeque chicken.

Hold on kids, 2012 is just around the corner, but don’t sell your Tofurky stock just yet.


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Mark says:

Great article – fascinating stuff.

But if, like you say, you’d like to know where your dinner comes from, then you should take a look at modern farms, where literally billions of animals spend their entire lives in tiny cages and filthy sheds. You can see it for yourself at

Scientific minds, more than anyone else, should recognize the significance of the fact that we are so closely related to other mammals and birds: we are more similar to them than different from them. So what is the basis for the vast ethical gulf we place between us and all other species on earth?

We have to rethink our attitudes and treatment of other animals, just as we are rethinking our attitudes and treatment of the natural environment. Alternatives to meat may be a very good beginning.

Alan Dove says:

We’ve been here before, albeit for different reasons. Up until World War II, food invariably came from sources that we would now categorize as “natural” and “organic,” not because it was fashionable, but because that was the only way to grow it. In the postwar boom years, the food and chemical industries, aided by a complicit US government, retooled this process to make our food more “scientific.” This revolution has continued for 60 years, and its crowning achievement has been … our current food supply system. Like synthetic foods? Have some more high fructose corn syrup.

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