New research has revealed 72 per cent of Generation Z are not ready to accepted cultured, or cell-based, meat, despite 59 per cent of participants sharing concern for the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming.
Gen Z – defined in the study as those born between 1995-2015 – make up around 20 per cent of the Australian population, and two billion people globally.
The new research from the University of Sydney and Curtin University found that lab-grown meat alternatives for Gen Z weren’t perceived positively, although 41 per cent acknowledged it could be a viable nutritional source to transition into more sustainable food options.
“In-vitro meat and other alternatives are important as they can help to reduce greenhouse emissions and lead to better animal welfare conditions,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr Diana Bogueva from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
“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.”
Anticipated taste or disgust, health and safety, as well as conflict with perceptions of gender and national identity were all among several concerns relating to eating cultured meat.
17 per cent of respondents rejected all alternatives, including cultured meat, seeing it as chemically produced and heavily processed, while 11 percent rejected all alternatives and were in favour of increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, saying they will stick with a vegetarian diet.
Only nine per cent of respondents accepted edible insects and rejected cultured meat “as it was too artificial and not natural like insects”.
“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,” said Bogueva.
“The respondents were effectively divided into two groups: the ‘against’ described cultured meat as ‘another thing our generation has to worry about’ and questioned the motivations of those developing it, while supporters described it as ‘money invested for a good cause’ and ‘a smart move’ by people who are ‘advanced thinkers’.”
“This Generation has vast information at its fingertips but is still concerned that they will be left with the legacy of exploitative capitalism that benefits only a few at the expense of many.
“They have witnessed such behaviour resulting in climate change and are now afraid that a similar scenario may develop in relation to food, particularly as investors are pursuing broader adoption of cultured meat.”
The study was published in Frontiers in Nutrition, and involved 227 randomly selected Australian-based participants to take part in an online survey.