Saturday, March 21, 2009


While sitting at the Honda dealership a couple of weeks ago, I read an article on SHMEAT in Whole Life Times magazine.

Here is the introduction of the article by Lou Bendrick:

Last April, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced it was sponsoring a one million dollar “X-Poultry Prize” for the creation of affordable, humane and “commercially viable” test-tube meat by 2012. This announcement, not at all surprisingly, piqued public curiosity (for starters, why is PETA endorsing anything with the word “meat” in it?).

Test-tube meat is also known as in vitro meat, cultured meat, victimless meat, vat-grown meat, hydroponic meat and, finally, shmeat. (Note to self: Be sure to apply for inevitable X Prize to rename this stuff.) Shmeat is grown from a cell culture (hence the in vitro or cultured prefixes), not from a live animal. These harvested cells are taken from an animal, such as a pig, and placed in a “nutrient-rich medium” that mimics blood. Once the cells multiply they are attached to a spongy scaffold or “sheet” (sheet + meat = shmeat) that has been soaked with nutrients and stretched to increase cell size and protein content.

This shmeat could, in theory, be harvested in vast quantities and used in minced meat products: burgers, nuggety things, or potted meat-food products, etc. While scientists (they call themselves “tissue engineers”) admit that growing a pork chop with a bone without a real pig attached is not likely, they also say that affordable, palatable minced shmeat might be available at a grocery store near you within a decade.

So… is this news great? Or gross? If it’s hard for you to tell, I assure you, you are not alone. When I first read about test-tube meat, I experienced psychological delight at its humanitarian prospects coupled with a simultaneous gag reflex at the thought of actually eating it.

To help you sort through your feelings, lie back on the couch while we examine some pros and cons of shmeat. (Most of these points are hypothetical, given that shmeat is in the experimental stages, but let’s take a novel approach and think seriously about a possibly harrowing technological advance before it becomes a widespread reality. Just a thought!)

To read the entire article, click here: Whole Life Times - Meet Shmeat

To see a hilarious take on the whole shmeat issue, take a look at this video from The Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
World of Nahlej - Shmeat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Your thoughts on this topic?


Grammatically Delicious Designs said...

OK, I'm not even sure where to start on the Shmeat issue. First, the name is aweful! I thought it was aweful when I first read the name, and then felt even more nauseous when I realized it was a combination of 'sheet and meat'. Oh goodness, icky. Kind of the way I felt when I first found out about the contents of a hotdog while simultaneously remembering that my mother had let me eat them directly from the refridgerator. True, I'm not kidding. I am not a vegetarian, and I am a farmer. We depend on livestock to eat all of the grain that is not perfect enough for the world population. I guess my meat eating is selfish. I'm going to have to go think about this one. Thanks for the brain food!


Fresh Paper said...

Yeah, I saw this on Colbert and could not believe when that Russian scientist, explaining the name, said "Shmeat is sh*t and meat". Apparently he was saying "Sheet and meat". The other way makes more sense to me.

Diana said...

um, yum??

Char said...

well, there ya go

The Seeker said...

Well... I'm a vegetarian.
And I agree with Fresh Paper.

Have a nice weekend


Awesome Sara said...

that is brilliant!! i don't even see any cons here. animals will be saved, no more cruelty, cheap meat, you can send that stuff over to 3rd world countries, etc etc etc. i see nothing but sunshine and rainbows on this subject

E.K. said...

If it means people can eat meat and animals don't have to lose their life (just to be flushed down the toilet the next day) then I'm all for it. Both sides win. We consider ourselves advanced beings, here's a way to prove it. If we have an alternative to killing, then why would we not take it? Everything thing is entitled to life. If someone said, "I'm hungry, I can either eat this weird meat or go kill this cow that's minding it's own business." I'd say, "Get over yourself and eat the strange meat." I don't think real meat over testtube meat justifies killing. I wouldn't want somebody to kill me just because they were too weirded out by testtube meat. I'm positive animals feel the same way, but either way it's creepy! ;)

The Cottage Cheese said...

While it is humane and saves resources, the unnatural process (and yes, the name!) kind of repulses me too. I'd be much more likely to buy a brick of tofu, even when "shmeat" is available someday.

That video was so disgusting, I'm off meat for a few days. Got to love that Colbert though!

Emma said...

I'm not a vegetarian (but I rarely eat meat) and even though my instant reaction was "gross" it is a lot less gross than what's in a lot of todays ready-to-eat food, not to mention that real meat really is gross when you let yourself think about it.

Something that I personally see a pro for this product is the enviromental aspect; there's a lot of energy consumpion that goes into breeding and feeding animals just so that we then eat them. The unnecessary energy consumption of eating meat is the reason why I have cut back on doing so.

one little simitopian said...

I wholeheartedly agree with E.K!
Whilst I couldn't eat "shmeat", I think that's probably just because I'm a vegetarian, so the whole idea of eating meat in general is a bit icky to me anyway.
What an interesting and thought provoking post!

Clare said...


sexypoet said...

the name alone kinda skeeves me.. but i'm a total carnivore so regular meat is fine with me.. interesting article though.

Gem said...

my immeadiate reaction was THAT IS FUCKING GROSS.

I'm a vego and the thought of meat in general is offputting to me... while this would obviously be much better for the animals, the idea of it being grown like that just creeps me out, to be honest. I wouldn't eat it.


At first I thought I read "Shemeat" and I was like "No Thanks."

Eeli said...

Hmm both bags and dark circles are pretty bad huh!? :(

As for shmeat there was an initial thought of elation, knowing there would be an alternative to culling animals for those omnivorous people but that turned into a slight disgust (and not because you mention your own defiance against this project). I think I'll have to think about this a bit more. Then again it probably isn't necessary since I'm a vegan. Actually identifying the merits for and against this project would be good. I'll bring it up with the flatties.

Sorrry for rambling. I tend to spew all my thoughts out without refining them first haha

Pretty Little World said...

I'm a vegetarian and so the idea that people could eat meat without killing animals is fantastic!

It does sound kind of icky though, and I hope this won't keep people from promoting some other great alternatives. Veggie burgers, Black bean burgers, Chick'n burgers, and Tempe burgers have come a long way and are all really tasty and pretty good for you!!

Jake Hammell said...

1) I guarantee you the effort to create Shmeat would be better spend on creating synthetic proteins in pill form from a nutrition standpoint

2) I'm probably one of the few people who have had the privilege to eat fresh meat. By that I mean meat that was literally running (or swimming or flying) around just an hour prior to landing on my plate.
Do you have any idea how delicious that is?

Shmeat wouldn't be able to deliver my meat-heroine

3) There really is no point three. I jsut wanted to point out that I'm going to get some Arby's today. The Ham N' Cheese melts are awesome, and who can turn down those curly fries?

Dooder City said...

hmmmm schmeat. i don't know what to make of it. i don't think i would eat it. i was a vegetarian for 10 years and i didn't have any need or desire for even the fake meat. but hell, i fthey could use it to give protein to people starving in foreign countries than that is great.

Charlotte said...

I am an ex-vegetarian so I understand not wanting to eat meat for whatever reasons you have

What bugs me is people who push their food agendas on others. I had a friend who was a vegetarian and her dad said she was ruining Thanksgiving becasue she wouldn't eat turkey, her dad is an idiot. But if someone starts gagging over my grilled steak, they are an idiot too. To each his own.

The implications for feeding the hungry is good science though so I support shmeat.

creative kerfuffle said...

schmeat--this makes me want to hurl. i like meat. there i said it. it sounds gross to me, growing meat in a test tube. but then i'm old school.

thereddeer said...

It will be interesting to see if this actually does happen one day. I for one like the idea of not having to kill animals - but would there be any long time affects for people's health?