There has been a lot of hype about red meat and its potential damage to our health. The FDA held its first public hearing about growing meat in the laboratory instead of using cattle–or for that matter fish or birds. The challenge is to produce hamburgers without beef.
One process that scientists are experimenting with involves growing “cultured meat” in the laboratory from real animal cells. The other idea is to create “meat” from plants with the protein and taste of real beef hamburgers without beef. Beef production is the top emitter of greenhouse gases, and growing beef from cows emits over 100 times more greenhouse gases than plant material would emit to produce the same amount of meat. Patrick Brown of Impossible Foods in Redwood City, California says “Animals happened to be the technology that was available 10,000 years ago for making meat. We stuck with that technology, and it’s incredibly inefficient by any measure–and destructive”.
When Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot introduced the first combustion steam-powered vehicle in 1771, it offered significant advantages over the horse. In 1898 urban planners in New York were concerned about the 50,000 tons of horse excrement that 175,000 horses in New York City were producing every month. Ten years later Henry Ford introduced the Model T which eventually eliminated the problem. How long will it take for plant-produced beef to solve the environmental and health problems caused by the use of cows to produce food? The beef industry is huge in America, hamburgers without beef are likely to be available in Europe and Asia before they are accepted here.
Some people believe that Christians cannot eat manufactured meat on religious grounds. Even those who go back to the meat prohibitions of the Old Testament will find no support for forbidding plant-produced hamburgers. In Genesis 9:3, God told Noah that he could eat of any “green plant,” but the law placed massive restrictions on eating animal-based protein. In 1 Corinthians 8:8-13 and in Romans 14:1-5 Paul expressed concern over the influence of Christians who because of their freedom to eat anything, might pose a problem for those who don’t understand that food is not a religious issue. Romans 14:17 summarizes this by saying, “The kingdom of God is not about meat and drink; but righteousness and peace…” In 1 Corinthians 10:25-27 Paul tells Christian to eat whatever is set before them “asking no questions.”
The silly aspect of religious concerns about eating manufactured foods is that we already do it. Think of the list of manufactured foods that we eat now. They include artificially produced fruits and vegetables such as tangelos, and hybrid apples, corn, and tomatoes. Other food substances include margarine, soy milk, artificial sweeteners, butter spray, etc. We copy God’s design of the foods we eat to enlarge the food supply of the planet and avoid waste.
Food chemistry is highly complex, but the more we understand the creation, the closer we get to the Creator. Let us thank God that we don’t go to bed hungry. Also let us thank God He has given us the ability to meet the needs of the hungry as we understand how we can produce and use these new foods, including hamburgers without beef.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data: Science News for September 29, 2018, page 11, “Dreaming Up Tomorrow’s Burger” or read it online HERE.