Vegetarians Have Moral Obligation to Eat “Frankenmeat”
Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, yesterday announced the world’s first test tube hamburger would be served up in October. Heston Blumenthal, the experimental chef, will cook the patty grown in a lab from a cow’s stem cells. Each portion will cost £220,000, but Prof Post hopes if the burger is a success he can develop the technology on an industrial scale.
“This is meat produced without the cruelty, carbon footprint or waste of resources,” said Alistair Currie, a spokesman for the vegan campaign group.
“It’s a hugely beneficial development for animals. We welcome this development, which shows this is a viable idea.”
He added the charity had no ethical objections to the fact that the test-tube patty will technically be a meat product.
He said: “Peta [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] has no objection to the eating of meat. Peta objects to the killing of animals and their exploitation. I personally don’t fancy eating this, but if other people do that’s fine.”
Even though Mr Currie doesn’t fancy eating Frankenmeat, he has a moral obligation to do so. It is not just other people who should eat this meat, vegans also have a moral obligation to eat it. Here is why.
Currently, carnivores vastly outnumber vegetarians. To protect the environment and reduce cruelty to animals, vegetarians argue, we should stop carnivores farming animals and eating meat. Frankenmeat is an ethical alternative, as Mr Currie points out. However it is hugely expensive – £220 000. But if vegetarians were to eat Frankenmeat, they would increase its market, thus driving price down. They would also show it to be a palatable, socially acceptable alternative to farmed meat. This would make it cheaper and more attractive to carnivores, driving them away from farmed meat to Frankenmeat. By doing their bit, and eating Frankenmeat, vegetarians could do more to improve the environment or the maltreatment of animals than by refusing the dish on grounds of taste.
In terms of their own values, vegetarians, even vegans, have a moral obligation not only to ensure Frankenmeat is marketed, but to consume it themselves.
They should not only swallow their pride, but their distaste, for the sake of their own values.