Lab Flesh And Anti-Speciesism – guest blog by Dan Kelly



The following post about why “lab flesh” is non-Vegan was post by Dan Kelly on his Facebook timeline. It’s one of the best posts on this subject that I’ve seen:

“ ‘Clean meat’ is a speciesist term meaning flesh made from animal cells, blood products taken from fetal calves, hormones, antibiotics and additives to keep the cells growing. I’ll call it “lab flesh,” but it can be called biotech flesh, bioengineered flesh, clean flesh or any other indication that it’s not directly from a slaughtered innocent.

As most of you likely know, lab flesh is being developed for benefits related to the environment, health, and animal welfare. Industrial animal agriculture 1) is the worst polluter on the planet, especially when you combine air and water pollution; 2) damages ecosystems; 3) is a leading cause of deforestation; 4) generates salmonella, listeria, E. coli and other contamination of flesh and downstream vegetables, causing severe illness and death to humans; 5) is a major cause of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses, and 6) is a life of torture, terror and hell to 65 billion innocent land animals and hundreds of billions of water animals, annually. If there were an Ig Nobel Prize for Stupidity, animal agriculture and its customers and supporters should win it annually. The developers of lab flesh seek to significantly reduce the six problems, even if they can’t eliminate them.

Antispeciesist vegans oppose lab flesh for the same reason most people would oppose creating human flesh for consumption (aside from cannibal diseases): flesh isn’t food. Lab flesh is a speciesist “solution” to the six problems.

Antispeciesist vegans are well-aware that there’s no stopping lab flesh from coming to market in the next 10 to 20 years, except possibly for difficulties in mass production. It will be one choice of many kinds of flesh available on the market, from traditional flesh from slaughtered or “hunted” innocents to lab flesh from various species: cows, chickens, pigs, dogs and others. It will amount to more speciesist choices of thousands of speciesist choices in a global, capitalist system. There are plenty of bioengineers and others who would love to get wealthy on the idea, and several billionaires and the giant corporations of animal agriculture are eager to invest in it, so it needs no encouragement from speciesist vegans. (Yes, some behavioral vegans can be quite speciesist in attitudes and beliefs.) Lab flesh will happen.

Lab flesh won’t put a dent in speciesism, though. People will still stalk and kill millions of free roaming innocents annually; still hook and net billions of water animals annually; still breed, confine and slaughter tens of billions of innocents annually; still go to zoos and rodeos; still wear skin and fur coats; still experiment on millions of dogs, mice and other innocents annually; still own and torture “pets”; and still bash vegan and antispeciesist advocates. Lab flesh will, at best, keep traditional animal agriculture at its present levels, instead of doubling over the next 30 years, and that’s if people actually choose it over traditional flesh. There will be marketing pushback against lab flesh, and it’s likely that many nonvegans won’t choose lab flesh over traditional flesh.

Lab flesh is what speciesists do, even if those speciesist are behavioral vegans and otherwise avoid using or consuming animal products. Being vegan and doing vegan and antispeciesist advocacy is what antispeciesist, abolitionist vegan advocates do. They are two different paradigms.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the best known books in the philosophy of science. In the book, Thomas Kuhn popularized the phrase “paradigm shift” and explained that there is usually a lot of resistance to new scientific paradigms, and it often takes older generations of scientists dying off before new scientific paradigms are accepted, no matter how powerful the new paradigms are or how much evidence supports them.

Although there are significant differences between scientific paradigms and moral paradigms, including differences in the reasons for resisting new paradigms, resistance to new paradigms that are eventually accepted is at least as common for moral, social and cultural paradigm shifts as it is for scientific ones.


The strong similarity between scientific and moral paradigm shifts is that proponents of each paradigm generally talk past each other when arguing for their paradigm, sticking to the logic internal to the paradigm they’re defending, logic which makes little or no sense outside of their paradigm. It’s like looking at the duck and rabbit photo and defending one without seeing the other. This doesn’t imply the paradigms are equally sound, or even close. Unlike the duck and rabbit photo in which both views are equally sound, in scientific and moral paradigms, one paradigm is usually far better at describing reality (in science) or far more coherent with generally accepted underlying values, such as objectivity and fairness (in morality).

As superior as a new paradigm may be, the new paradigm requires strong advocates if it is to ever replace the old paradigm. Without strong advocacy from start to finish, the old paradigm, with its own internal logic, will stay in place indefinitely.

Lab flesh is a small modification of the old, broken paradigm (speciesism and welfarism) that is incommensurate with the new paradigm (antispeciesism and abolitionism). The old paradigm relied on previous generations’ ignorance of modern nutrition science and other technological advancements. Modern nutrition science and other non-food advancements in technology have made the old paradigm obsolete. We have no need to use nonhuman beings. We must reject speciesism, reject lab flesh, be vegan for life, and strongly advocate that others do the same. You can’t expect new paradigm thinkers to accept old paradigm nonsense.

Antispeciesists are in this for the long haul over decades. We know we’re on the right side of history. We know lab flesh will come and go, eventually replaced by vegan meats as society’s moral paradigm gradually changes.”

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please live Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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