Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an NBA Hall of Famer and outspoken writer. His self-published Substack shares his articles, thoughts, and ruminations about the intersection of sports, politics, and popular culture.
His most recent Substack post covered several topics, but one of them jumped out to us immediately. Kareem had discovered Oliver Milman's now famous article in The Guardian, "I tried lab-grown meat made from animals without killing them - is this the future of ethical eating?", and dubbed it as possibly 'one of the most important stories you read this year..'.
This may be one of the most important stories you read this year because it has the potential of literally changing the world for the better. I’ll get to the practical reasons in a moment—and they are immensely compelling. But first, on the personal level of just causing less pain to other creatures, I hope it’s a massive success. I understand the “cycle of life” argument about all of us being born to eat something else, whether it’s an animal or vegetation. And I’m also aware that eating vegetables is not as ethically pure as we’d like to believe: we’re still eating something alive that procreates, communicates, and may feel pain (though not in the way we do). Nevertheless, we have to eat to survive, but we don’t have to consume all of our resources that may result in ending our survival. If there’s a way to be just a bit more humane—and smart—let’s embrace it.
Some practical points: We will use less land, less food to feed animals, less water, and cut harmful emissions. “The raising and slaughter of livestock is responsible for more than half of the greenhouse gas pollution of the entire food sector, which in itself is estimated to contribute around a third of total global emissions. …[C]ultivated meat…can cut emissions by around 17% for chicken and up to 92% for beef, the meat that weighs heaviest on the planet, GFI’s research has found.”
Americans are the carnivores of the world: We are the world’s largest producer of beef and chicken and the second largest producer of pork. Each American eats more than 260 lbs. of meat each year—and rising. We love to thump our chests and proclaim our affinity for meat and that you’ll have to pry that barbecued rib from our cold, dead hands. But it makes a lot more sense that if we can get the same taste and texture from something that doesn’t kill and doesn’t use an obscene amount of natural resources, then we’re all better off.
As a respected and well known voice for contemporary societal issues, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's excitement and associated level of importance for lab grown meat technologies is refreshing for those who are already familiar with the space. The thoughts he shared on the topic will undoubtedly result in more people being introduced to this rapidly-advancing industry.