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In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat or shmeat, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete, living animal. In vitro meat is also known by its other common names such as cultured meat, test tube meat as well as victimless meat. As expressed in its common names, in vitro meat is meat that is created in the laboratory. It is created in an incubator, more specifically, a petri dish. In vitro meat starts off as a group of cells; the cells could be stem cells or a myoblast cell, which when fused with other myoblast cells, develop into muscle cells which finally turn into fibers. The main objective of in vitro meat is that it comes from animal flesh that was never part of a well-functioning and living animal. In order for the cells to grow, it needs to be placed in some sort of growth medium, and thus, the cells are placed into a petri dish that contains glucose, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. There are two ways to get the cells to fuse together so that they can multiply and form muscle cells; one way is mechanically in which the cells naturally collide into each other and therefore growing into a bigger cell and so on. The second method is to stimulate them electrically. As the muscle cells continue to multiply, they will later develop into muscle fibers, and after a few of weeks of being in the growth medium, they can be extracted and processed as a ground meat product.
Potential Health Benefits
There are some potential health benefits that in vitro meat could have on the general public. For example, consuming meat that was never part of a fully-functioning, living animal would decrease the chances of contracting foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli food poisoning. Aside from foodborne illnesses, eating in vitro meat would also indirectly decrease the risk of heart disease, which is currently the number one cause of death in the United States.
Environmental & Other Benefits
There are still some on going research in terms of finding out the environmental advantages of in vitro meat in our society. For example, studies have shown that the production of in vitro meat would involve anywhere from eighty-five to ninety percent lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Although in vitro meat would generally require approximately fourteen percent more energy than that of conventional meat, it could also reduce energy used for pork, beef and sheep by thirty-five to sixty percent. In addition, the production of in vitro meat would also reduce land use by ninety-eight percent. This particular advantage would greatly benefit society seeing as more wildlife would be preserved, and in turn, less land would be converted into agriculture space for food production.