Researchers have discovered that merely a third of people would be open to eating lab-grown or in vitro meat, citing high prices and taste as big concerns.
The finding comes as the result of a study, published in the Public Library of Science’s own journal, PLoS One. Researchers Matti Wilks and Clive J. C. Phillips aimed to examine public perceptions of in vitro meat through a survey.
According to the study, IV meat is a potential solution to the global problems caused by meat production.
Among these are the emissions caused by the industry, ethical concerns around the mass-slaughter of animals, as well as the “inefficiency” when it comes to feeding a growing population.
“In the light of people’s continued desire to eat meat, it seems the problems associated with consumption are unlikely to be fully resolved by attitude change,” notes the study. “Instead, they must be addressed from an alternate perspective: changing the product.”
A team in the Netherlands has already developed an artificial meat product derived from animal stem-cells, and has already cooked the world’s first artificial meat hamburger.
While the prospect of resource-efficient and ethical meat is promising, the study suggests that much must be done to change public perception on the matter.
“We identified that although most respondents were willing to try in vitro meat, only one third were definitely or probably willing to eat in vitro meat regularly or as a replacement for farmed meat,” it says.
“The main concerns were an anticipated high price, limited taste and appeal and a concern that the product was unnatural.”
Indeed, recent decades have seen the widespread promotion of organic products, tilting favour away from genetically-modified products. IV research is also inhibited by the sheer cost of production.
Interestingly, the study found that men are more inclined to try IV meat than women. Perhaps a bit more strangely, politically liberal respondents are also more open to the idea than those of a conservative persuasion.
Preferences aside, such developments in food security may prove to be vital in years to come, as humans continue to out-grow the world. One day, people may not have much of a choice anymore.