Generation Z not ready for lab-grown meat just yet

By Rodney Woods

New research published by the University of Sydney and Curtin University found that, despite having a great concern for the environment and animal welfare, 72 per cent of Generation Z was not ready to accept lab-grown meat.

Despite their lack of enthusiasm for the new meat alternative, 41 per cent believed it could be a viable nutritional source because of the need to transition to more sustainable food options and improve animal welfare.

“Our research has found that Generation Z — those born between 1995 and 2015 — are concerned about the environment and animal welfare, yet most are not ready to accept cultured meat and view it with disgust,” the study's lead researcher Diana Bogueva said.

Fifty-nine per cent of participants were concerned about the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming specifically.

However, many were not clear on what those impacts were, nor did they understand the associated resource depletion.

“In-vitro meat and other alternatives are important as they can help to reduce greenhouse emissions and lead to better animal welfare conditions,” Dr Bogueva said.

“However, if cultured meat is to replace livestock-based proteins, it will have to emotionally and intellectually appeal to the Gen Z consumers.

“It may be through its physical appearance, but what seems to be more important is transparency around its environmental and other benefits.”

Dr Bogueva said the participants had several concerns relating to cultured meat, including an anticipated taste or disgust, health and safety, and whether it was a more sustainable option.

Societal concerns were also prevalent throughout the study, with a large number of respondents worried that eating cultured meat would be in conflict with perceptions of gender and national identity.

“Gen Z value Australia's reputation as a supplier of quality livestock and meat, and many view traditional meat eating as being closely tied to concepts of masculinity and Australian cultural identity,” Dr Bogueva said.

“Others were concerned about animal welfare, whereas some viewed cultured meat as a conspiracy orchestrated by the rich and powerful and were determined not to be convinced to consume it.”