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Vegetarian Meat: Could Technology Save Animals and Satisfy Meat Eaters?


Between people who unabashedly support eating meat and those who adopt moral vegetarianism, lie a number of people who are uncomfortably carnivorous and vaguely wish they could be vegetarians. Opposing animal suffering in principle, they can ignore it in practice, relying on the visual disconnect between supermarket meat and slaughterhouse practices not to trigger their moral emotions. But what if we could have the best of both worlds in reality—eat meat and not harm animals? The nascent biotechnology of tissue culture, originally researched for medical applications, holds out just such a promise. Meat could be grown in vitro without killing animals. In fact, this technology may not just be an intriguing option, but might be our moral obligation to develop.

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We would like to thank the suggestions of several anonymous reviewers for their help in improving this paper.

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Correspondence to Patrick D. Hopkins.

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Hopkins, P.D., Dacey, A. Vegetarian Meat: Could Technology Save Animals and Satisfy Meat Eaters?. J Agric Environ Ethics 21, 579–596 (2008).

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  • Animal suffering
  • Animal welfare
  • Artificial meat
  • Biotechnology
  • Carniculture
  • Cultured meat
  • Food production
  • In vitro meat
  • Moral vegetarianism
  • Tissue culture