Cellular and Plant-Based Meat

Cellular and plant-based meats are likely to play central roles in people shifting diets. How the market, government, and slaughtered animal–meat producers respond to these innovations requires examination, especially on issues of food security, notions of what “natural” food is, and how these meats might address food-justice issues and rural–urban divides (especially given the potential move away from feed crops). The animal agriculture industry and some states are already seeking to delay integration of plant- and cellular-based meat and dairy in the market.

At the moment, the main interest in this sector comes from entrepreneurs and scientists, although government and industry are now engaged. One question is how we talk about this technology without it becoming as polarized as “coal and oil v. renewables” in the current environmental “debate.” That politicization at least partly depends on how or whether cellular and plant-based meat production is seen as a complement to a range of economic and social strategies for renewing rural, predominantly agricultural communities, or even as a sum economic benefit to the U.S. should the current costs of meat production be internalized.

This paper not only looks at the new companies, technological developments, and broader cultural responses forming around plant-based and cellular meats and dairy products, but the public attitudes to and market acceptance of veganism or plant-based as a strategy. Varied visions for a future that incorporates cellular and/or plant-based meat will be considered.