There are many reasons to look to in vitro meat as a way to reduce the devasting environmental damage resulting from current infatuation with meat. Significant challenges stand in the way, including its price, scalability, and taste. Price is now becoming less of an issue. From Co.Exist:
[I]n 2013, the dream of an artificial burger suddenly got interesting. That’s when Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, announced that he had created a burger made from real meat grown in a lab (20,000 strips of muscle tissue, to be exact) for the unreasonable price of $325,000. Now that price has dropped to just over $11 for a burger ($80 per kilogram of meat), according to a recent ABC News interview with Post.
While the price of the burger has dropped to almost-reasonable prices, Post told ABC that it will still be another 20 to 30 years before it’s commercially viable. Among the hurdles still left to overcome: figuring out how to produce test-tube meat at scale, and coming up with a way to produce it that doesn’t use fetal calf serum (currently, cells are grown in the serum, which is taken from cow fetus blood).
Price and taste are both important. But for Muslims there is also the issue of whether it will be halal and, thus, permissible for consumption. Blood is filth. Life is what gives purity to otherwise impure animal tissue. While there are some interesting rulings related to the purity of living creatures that are born and mature in filth (like flies in dung), there are significant differences between these cases and of lab-grown meat. One is that lab-grown meat was never part of an actual living animal. Some other fiqh-related challenges are mentioned here.
Lab-grown meat may solve the crucial challenges related to its price, taste, and scalable production. Will it be able to solve the fiqh challenges?