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On Culture and Meat

I found it sad and disturbing to learn that the noted philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer is all for cultured meat. (This is animal tissue produced in vitro for the purpose of human consumption.)

For the record, I think cultured meat is appalling.

To me it’s a remarkable indicator of how far humans have journeyed away from the rest of nature. From ourselves. It’s as though we inhabit a desolate parallel universe occupied by our fears and desires and nothing else. That we can even come up with the idea of artificially producing flesh on an industrial scale is heartbreaking. It’s a testament to the way we have wilfully trapped ourselves in the tiny, lonely, self-referential box of technology.

I am actually surprised that I can still be amazed at the lengths our culture will go to in order to avoid admitting that we’ve blown it. That we have lost our way and need to seriously think about doing things differently. This avoidance is aggressive and pathological and I guess I’m grateful that I can still feel shocked by it.

Sometimes I wonder what it will take. What darkness will it take for our society to get to the point of finally admitting that we’ve lost the plot? I shudder at the thought.

Here we are. So far removed from our own experience of embodiment, of the collective unfolding of life, that we no longer understand the meaning of animal flesh. The only thing we seem to know is our own insatiable hunger.


  1. It is a complex issue, but I admit I am revolted in a profiound way. I do not have confidence in these emotions, completely, however. I have profound suspicions that the same old reasons commercial science peddles, about ‘end of hunger’, ‘ good for the environment’, and so on covers up raw commercialism and a failure to consider unexpected outcomes. But it does seem, on one level of mass consciousness, that we have taken to heart all the science fiction scenarios from the fifties and sixties on, and are more and more living out those dreams, herding each other towards a frenzied inevitability…..

    • Yes, on so many levels it feels like we are in some creepy 1950s dystopia. But I guess they were already in it back then too.

      I think the “failure to consider unexpected outcomes” is kind of the tragedy of our species. Human beings don’t have the capacity to anticipate and consider all the angles, all the repercussions of our actions. So our naive scientism and our clumsy technology get us (and all the beings around us) into all sorts of trouble. Perhaps we’ve always been bumblers. The problem now is that we have the capacity to bumble on a global scale.

      Only nature has the ability to work holistically, elegantly accounting for and including everything. This is what nature is. Does. We lost the plot when we started thinking we were something separate. Perhaps since that point, the rest has been inevitable…

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