Last week the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) hosted another Roundtable discussing tough food issues, this time around: The Future of Meat! The panel did a great job to elevate the dialogue away from just “to eat or not to eat meat”. They addressed ethical issues of animal welfare, population demand, production, etc.
Peter Singer- well-known for his book Animal Liberation, represented the ethical side of this discussion. His major concerns are of the suffering to animals and environmental damage.
Patrick Martins-wrote Carnivore’s Manifesto and founder of Heritage Foods USA, supports local, small farms especially pasture-raised, heritage meats. He believes, “Meat should cost a lot more. We should eat less of it, but we should eat the best.”
Isha Datar, Executive Director of New Harvest, a non-profit which advances technologies to sustainably and affordably feed the population, known famously for cultured meat (produced through cell culture vs. raising whole animal). By removing the animal from the picture, able to expand what meat really means and cut down on costs (animal welfare, environmental, public health costs.)
Mark Budolfson, philosopher at Princeton, interested in “effective altruism.” If you are concerned for animal welfare, what can you do to make things better? He would rather shift idea of effecting change from voting with dollars--consumer choices (i.e. changing lightbulbs, buying Prius, etc) to focusing efforts on supporting public policy changes, to solve the problem in a bigger way.
Of course a panel about meat would not be complete without the outcry of animal rights activists, declaring, even chanting, “All animals want to live!” But these (loud) activists overlooked the fact that everyone was on the same page that our current corporate animal-farming system is cruel. “Cruelty is only acknowledged when profitability ceases.” Industrial animal agriculture has almost monopolized the meat-field: over-breeding animals to produce more meat as cheaply as possible. As a result, factory-farmed meat dominates our market shelves.
I have to give major props to the panel for acknowledging the reality that we do live in a society where our population consumes meat. They imaged a world where meat has a lot more options. Whether that includes vegetarian/veganism, consuming ethically-raised meats or cultured meats. As Isha pointed out, when we have more “meat” options, corporations can focus less on competing against each other to churn out more meat, and focus more on quality than quantity.
Listen to the exciting broadcast of the panel at Heritage Radio Network here!