The Environmental Benefits of Test-Tube Meat

A new study compares the benefits of lab-grown meat to the real stuff.

Would you eat meat if raising it didn't use so much land and water?

According to a new life cycle analysis from scientists at Oxford University and Amsterdam University published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, lab-grown meats could do just that, eliminating nearly all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising live animals for meat—as red bar shows in the graph above.

The figures represent a back-of-the-envelope calculation since it's based on a number of assumptions about the effectiveness of meat-growing technology. The authors write, "Energy consumption for cultured meat production may be higher if additional processing is required for improving the texture of meat." But in vitro meat could require less refrigeration and transportation.

Still, making this kind of "meat" so appealing that everyone will want to bring home the beaker bacon is probably going to take more than just a couple theoretically environmental benefits.

Chart via "Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production."