A reader writes:
Much as I dislike PETA and the extreme vegetarian movement (I dislike extremists of all stripes, really), I must disagree that the frankenmeat puts vegetarians into the position of needing to support the new technology. While the argument is cute, it lacks a sense of realism. Frankenmeat is unnatural and weird, but also a terrible waste of energy; there's a reason it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a pound. It doesn't jibe with the environmentalist arguments against meat. But then maybe the author was just teasing PETA, so then carry on.
I think you're confusing "vegetarians" with "animal rights activists." PETA is not a vegetarian organization. And though its members might be loud, they don't represent the majority of vegetarians.
I have been vegetarian for 18 years, and I know quite a few vegetarians here in New York. Although I have no statistics to back it up, I think the majority of life-long vegetarians (not high school and college students who are experimenting with it for "political reasons") choose meat-free diets as a matter of taste. I don't like meat. My family does. I cook meat and serve it to my wife and kids. I just don't eat it myself.
One of the things I love about living in New York is that no one asks me why I am a vegetarian. They just accept it. On the other hand, when I visit family in Indiana, I am hounded by questions and accusations at the dinner table. And PETA always comes up! For some reason, being a vegetarian is threatening to meat eaters.
I don't see myself or my vegetarian and vegan friends and family ever eating frankenmeat. It's not always about "meat is murder". Some abstain from meat for health reasons and would still want to avoid the saturated fat and cholesterol. Also, many vegans and vegetarians focus on eating unprocessed whole foods and wouldn't eat it because it was grown in lab. (Remember, these are hippies were talking about here; they buy "Organic" everything.)
Personally, I'm a low-fat vegan at home for health, environmental, and political reasons (the Farm Bill is fucked up) but will eat meat when I travel (experiencing cultures through food is, for me, a great joy). I do NOT think "meat is murder", but it is bad for my heart and wasteful for the environment.