Considering the technology advancement where you could have meat grown in a lab, would it be considered vegan (since it is not a animal product)?

Would it depend whether the lab-grown meat was originally derived from an animal's tissue?


6 Answers 6


It would be vegan if its production does not rely on the exploitation of animals.

One part of the motivation for lab-grown meat, artificial milk, etc., is to reduce our systematic exploitation of animals, or at least in the marketing thereof. This company does claim that their lab-grown milk is vegan and “kind”. Lab-grown meats are still far from being on the market so it's impossible to answer specifically for the time being.


Gerrit's answer is undoubtedly the correct and concise one, but this is such an interesting subject that I have to offer a couple of thoughts.

While it might be vegan I think it's incompatible with the vegan ethos, in my opinion. I think it normalises the impression of meat as both food and commodity.

There's every chance that this will be part of the meat industry and not contrary to it, so financially they may well be interconnected, it wouldn't surprise me if the research was backed by Bernard Matthews or some big meat production name.

Besides it being less appealing an idea than real meat even to meat eaters I've spoken to, it will undoubtedly be done in the most industrial way possible (since it's only about profit, after all). This means genetic modification will be likely (to achieve the desired texture, fat distribution etc) not to mention chemical contamination.

Vegan? Perhaps in theory but I think the practice will be an ethical minefield.

  • 6
    While I would not eat it, I am excited for lab-grown meat in order to use it as pet food for obligate carnivores.
    – nloewen
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 17:24
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    "normalises the impression of meat as both food and commodity." It wouldn't normalize the use of animals to produce it, though. And that is the main issue. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 10:13
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    Saying you should not eat lab grown meat, because it may have been partly funded by the meat industry is like saying you should not stop smoking because stop smoking ads are paid for by the tobacco industry Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 16:38
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    "so financially they may well be interconnected, it wouldn't surprise me if the research was backed by Bernard Matthews or some big meat production name." So? I don't see how you could possibly take issue with that. Do we have a problem to fix, or are we going to preoccupy ourselves with sticking it to the big man?
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 2:36
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    If you see my last comment, I said I don't really have such an issue any more. But originally it was because it demonstrates to me the company will disregard ethics for the sake of profit (I'm not saying I can't understand it, that's literally the definition of a business, to make profit). I just decided to pick my battles better.
    – David S
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 7:27

There is no official body dictating what vegans may and may not eat. So, each vegan needs to make his or her own decision.

A very strict line that some vegans that I know take: if some animal material has been involved in the production then it is not vegan. You ask whether it would depend on whether the product originated from animal tissue. This might affect the opinion of a few but I doubt that any product avoids this. Even if we were clever to mimic meat without using some as a starter, we would still need some meat to compare it to.

A more pragmatic line. I am in this group. If this leads to a substantial reduction in, and maybe eventual elimination of, meat consumption then it is a compromise worth accepting. Some of this group, me again, don't expect to eat the products ourselves. We would just rather see others eat these products than real meat.

I don't recall hearing it but I expect that there are some vegans who will happily eat these products. There may be other who are not yet vegan but may switch thanks to these products.

I expect that many meat eaters will avoid these products so a total elimination of meat eating any time soon is very unlikely. On the other hand, if fairly convincing cheap burgers, sausages, pies, etc can be produced then some may switch. Some people know and care little about how their food is made. If it is cheap and tasty then they might be sufficient.


Vegan, as I understand it, is about reducing suffering and harm, so the definition of contains animal parts or products falls a bit short here. So for example, I consider eating road kill as vegan, or eating sausage from dumpster diving.

I always liked eating meat, the chewing and taste, but went vegan nonetheless many years before for ethical and environmental reasons. So, I at least would try it. And if the company behind the product were acceptable for me (in terms of production standards, how they treat their workers and the environment, where they purchase their resources etc.), I would buy it from time to time.

In short: If no one suffers if I buy lab grown meat, it's vegan enough for me.

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    I probably won't eat these products but I would still support them. They should still reduce animal suffering.
    – badjohn
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 14:39

It depends on WHY you do it.

If you are vegan out of concern for animal well-being, then sure, I would say it's vegan if nothing is from an actual animal (i.e. Stem cells, tissues, etc. taken from a real animal). - That is unless they are growing full animals with brains etc.

If you are vegan out of devotion, self-discipline, or for religion, then maybe not.

For example; If someone steals from or lies to a computer-controlled character in a video game, is that considered a sin?

i.e. Simulated character + real action/intention ?= Simulated animal + real action/intention

It really is up to you and the actual process of the lab/manufacturer.


Would it make a difference to the answers if it was lab grown Human flesh?

Some Buddhists and others believe that consciousness comes from the whole body, not just the brain.

I would wonder if this meat has consciousness, a nervous system and feeling. Are there nerves in the flesh?

I am happy enough with soy meat myself. Sometimes that is even too realistic for me.

We may never know if Lab meat is actually vegan or not. It is definitely not vegetarian.


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