Sciency Words: Clean Meat

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words.  Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:


There’s a newspaper clipping that’s been circulating around the Internet for a while.  It says:

To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you; you ought to go to the store and buy the meat that’s made there, where no animals were harmed.

This is a stupid quote, purportedly made by a very stupid person (though I’m of the opinion that this was always meant as a joke, because nobody could be that stupid, could they?).  But maybe at some point in the future, thanks to advancements in cloning technology, we really will be able to make meat without harming animals.

Researchers are already working on the idea.  They call it “clean meat.”  What’s clean about it?  Well, because it’s grown from animal cells in controlled, laboratory-like conditions, clean meat is far less likely to pick up bacterial contaminants. Also large-scale production of clean meat would have less of an environmental impact than traditional animal farming, making it cleaner for the environment.

Personally, I’d be happy to eat clean meat.  I’d feel a lot cleaner, morally speaking, if I knew no animals had to suffer to make my delicious cheeseburger.  But there seems to be a lot of concern among the scientific community about whether or not the general public would be willing to eat this stuff.  According to this brief article from International Social Science Research, the key will be making sure the public is well educated about clean meat, especially the health benefits, before the product hits the market.

P.S.: Special thanks to Patrick Walts for cluing me in about this in response to one of my dining on Mars posts.  If clean meat works out here on Earth, it will certainly make it a lot easier to feed a growing colony on Mars, or on any other world for that matter.

8 thoughts on “Sciency Words: Clean Meat

  1. This would also be useful in certain zombie virus scenarios. The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant comes to mind — in those books, the virus affects anything over about fifty pounds, so big dogs, deer, cows, bears, even humans who are sometimes born with live virus and eventually hit that threshold weight and turn. There’s one scene where the main characters go to a restaurant notorious for actually serving hamburgers, made from cows raised in a theoretically clean environment where they weren’t exposed to the virus (which I guess can’t be cooked out).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, any of those would be a huge improvement. Though I think if I saw something at the grocery store labeled unicorn meat, I might feel a little too sad to eat it.


  2. It’s bound to happen, I say. It’d be a major paradigm shift, but when one stops to think about industrialized meat, it’s just such a monstrous, bizarre and impractical institution. I do more than my part to perpetuate it, but I’d love to see clean meat become commonplace.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I eat meat primarily because a lot of fruits and vegetables aggravate my messed up digestive system and I’m not supposed to be losing anymore weight, according to the doc, so I chow down on a lot of lean cuts steaks and grilled chicken. Nothing but respect for hunters who eat what they kill, as well. Never understood the backlash they get.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, you don’t want to go against your doctor’s orders. For me it’s just that I don’t have the strength of will to go vegetarian. I tried, but I just couldn’t stick to it.

        Where I live, people get worked up about hunting seasons being too long. I’m not well informed enough to really get into that, but I get why it’s a concern. You don’t want to cut down the animal populations too much.


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