Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first cultivated-meat product in the United States. For those who don’t know cultivated meat is grown from livestock cells, without slaughter. It’s better for animal welfare, public health and the environment.
Cultivated meat will allow us to relegate battery cages, gestation crates and livestock trucks to a less compassionate past. Since animals are removed from the process, our pandemic risk will be greatly reduced. Meanwhile, the greenhouse-gas emissions are a fraction of those needed to raise livestock.
Despite the FDA’s approval, more public funding for cultivated-meat research is necessary for this revolutionary protein to compete with the price of slaughtered meat, once it’s introduced to the American market. I believe Christians should pressure their legislators to support such funding.
In the Old Testament, God is shown to prefer a world without slaughter. We see this in Genesis, where he prescribes a vegan diet in the Garden of Eden: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”
We see this in Isaiah, which promises a world without interspecies violence. Predatory animals will become herbivores: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.”
We see this in Hosea, where God specifically pledges to end human violence against animals. “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.”
Meat-eating is a concession to humanity’s sinfulness. It’s not God’s ideal. But what about the New Testament? What about Jesus? There’s an interesting debate about what role vegetarianism played in the early Christian church. The canonized gospels, however, make a few things clear.
Jesus wasn’t refuting the Old Testament. Here’s what he says in Matthew: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Finally, Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer, which says God’s will must be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Whatever Jesus’ diet might have been, we know what God’s will is. We’ve seen it in Genesis, Isaiah, and Hosea. God wants a world without interspecies violence. That’s his ideal.
Christians should pressure their elected representatives to support more money for cultivated-meat research, which will help this groundbreaking protein achieve price parity with slaughtered options. Cultivated meat has the potential to drastically reduce the suffering and death we inflict on animals, bringing us closer to God’s will.