Saturday, December 4

If we can grow cruelty-free meat in a laboratory, what is it all about? | Meat

With advances in lab-grown meat, vegetarians and vegans must ask themselves: is it still about animal welfare or is it about keeping people from eating meat?

Cultured meat, produced in bioreactors from muscle cells taken from live animals, has been approved for the first time by a regulatory authority. The “chicken bites” from the San Francisco startup Eat Just have been approved for sale by the Singapore Food Agency. It’s a historic moment that could lead to a revolution in “friendly / clean” meat, significantly reducing industrial livestock production and potentially eliminating it altogether.

It could also be much more environmentally friendly, with 96% less greenhouse gas emissions and 99% less land use, while avoiding bacterial contamination from animal waste and industrial hormone / antibiotic overdose. Now, various companies, including major meat producers, are developing laboratory meat, acquiring global regulation, and convincing the public.

This is mind-blowing. Just think: the possibility that there are no more factory farms or slaughterhouses. It’s the early days and the main concerns need to be addressed: expense, quality, transparency of methodology and production, global regulation, calming consumer anxiety about safety, and more. But wouldn’t we rather address these issues? As a vegetarian, I wouldn’t eat lab meat, but I love the idea that others can consume safe, cruelty-free meat with a clear conscience. If the animals do not suffer, if the environment benefits, no problem … right?

Some disagree, arguing that lab meat perpetuates the meat-eating fixation and that the focus should be on plant-based diets. They are also concerned that meat producers want to get in, which makes no sense. If the proper regulations are in place, surely it is a great advantage for meat producers to participate? The point, of course, is to stop suffering and destruction, not to stop profit.

Perhaps at least some of the opposition to lab-grown meat is rooted in identity, an “ethical” need that borders on the demand that people join them in finding meat eating abhorrent, and perhaps that everyone should. aspire to be vegan, or at least vegetarian. Except it will never happen. While there has been great interest in meatless products, many people still want to eat meat. And frankly, if it’s cruelty-free and environmentally friendly, why shouldn’t they?

Perhaps it is time to check the priorities. Is it still about animal welfare and the environment or has it become a phenomenon of control over what people eat? Has anything hard-line and dictatorial been installed? The irony is that it’s these highly “ethical” guys who almost single-handedly fueled the push for viable, cruelty-free options in the mass market. This is indeed what they wanted … and they achieved it! So of course still ask questions, but also rejoice, cooperate, in what could become a global game changer. Come on vegans, get the win.

I’m worried I’m spending so much time with the delivery men

Stand up and surrender
Stand up and deliver. Photograph: Asda / PA

In these changing times, do our relationships with delivery drivers become more personal and intense?

Don’t be alarmed, this is not a porn script release (possible title: DPD man always calls twice). A Which? poll reports that up to two out of three people experience problems with childbirth. Packages thrown on your wall. The packages were thrown on other people’s wall. False signatures. Missing items. “Safe places” are ignored and packages are left in plain sight on door steps. The letters that insist they “missed” you when you were definitely home, making you feel like you were in a Hitchcock thriller.

In the run-up to Christmas, especially this year with more people shopping online, it can sometimes feel like the Wild West is re-creating itself with courier vans and bikes. Of course it is not. Most delivery drivers, male and female, do a great job, being professional and friendly, despite being overworked and underpaid.

Still, it’s interesting how, as Main Street disintegrates, it is reforming like relentless traffic on residential streets. Nor is it completely impersonal. As staff fluctuate, the same faces tend to reappear on rounds. Recently, I feel like I’ve seen certain drivers more often than members of my own family. I’ve formed opinions about them: “Oh well, he never throws packages in puddles.” Just as some have probably formed about me: “God, she again, does she never stop spending?”

The time was that you always saw the same milkmen, garbage men or postmen. They were such important elements of British life that children would want to grow up to be them. Now, for most people, it’s probably delivery drivers who watch the most and a new subculture is forming. It’s no wonder that relationships occasionally wear out or become completely dysfunctional. We may be seeing each other too much.

You don’t have to love Thatcher to believe she deserves a statue

Margaret Thatcher statue
“Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher dominated the stage.” Photograph: Douglas Jennings / PA

She couldn’t stand Margaret Thatcher, but does she deserve a statue in her hometown? Of course yes. Plans to erect the statue of Lady Thatcher by Douglas Jennings in Grantham, Lincolnshire, have met with more opposition, focusing on the cost of the opening ceremony.

Its a lot of money (£ 100,000), especially when people struggle during the pandemic. While the opening is expected to be funded by private donations, it will be funded by the council. However, this is not just about money. It’s about Thatcher being a divisive figure. In what has been described as a “mini Brexit,” there were calls online for eggs to be thrown at the statue.

Isn’t this pretty pathetic? There is no denying that Thatcher was divisive, but she was also many other things, including the first female prime minister and one of the most memorable British leaders of all time. Recently, it was interesting how fans and naysayers were irritated by Gillian Anderson’s excessive manners. Thatcher representation in The crown. Even those of us who didn’t have time for Thatcher thought it unfair to reduce her to a cartoon.

Love her or hate her, like PM, Thatcher dominated the national and international stage. Attempts to diminish his achievements, such as opposing the Grantham statue, seem petty and ridiculous.

• Barbara Ellen is a columnist for Observer

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