Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 496

The veg option

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Meanings are given in BOLD

In Singapore, you can now get “chicken bites” (a nugget, really), which have nothing to do with chickens. The city-state has become the first to approve a “cultured meat” product — flesh-equivalents produced in bio-reactors that do not require the slaughter (to kill an animal, usually for food) of an animal.

The move is being seen as a landmark moment for the livestock ( animals that are kept on a farm, such as cows, pigs, sheep, etc)  industry: For some time now, several companies have been developing cultured meat to mitigate ( to make something less serious, painful, unpleasant, etc )  the impact of animal rearing ( to breed and look after animals on a farm, etc ) on climate change as well as provide vegetarians with a “cruelty free” option.

These are laudable ( (of an action, idea, or aim) deserving praise and commendation ) goals, no doubt. But vegetarian meat is also the disturbing, almost dystopic, fruition ( the time when a plan, etc. starts to be successful ) of a phenomenon that began with such innovations as the soya chaap.

For people socialised in food cultures where animal protein is not the centre of the meal — in the Subcontinent, for example, a cereal, pulses, vegetables usually accompany (to go together with somebody/something) a meat dish — the overwhelming need that vegetarians have to eat meat substitutes may not make sense.

In fact, a dietary pattern which does not rely (to trust somebody/something to work or behave well) on mass-produced animal protein also puts far less stress on the environment. That Indians consumed only 3.16 kg of meat per capita per annum in 2017, (in Singapore, the figure is over 71 kg, in the US, 98.6 kg) is as much to do with eating habits that encourage diversity as socio-economic factors.

What is irksome ( irritating; annoying ) about lab-grown meat, and meat-substitutes in general, really, is that they claim nobility ( the quality of being noble in character ) for what is essentially a fear of missing out. They allow people to make the choice of being vegetarian, without feeling like they have to actually give up meat. And finally, is all the research and money put into an over-processed chicken nugget worth it? Just stick to the soya chaap.

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