We need to use our imagination now that eating meat is becoming more and more problematic from an ethical perspective.
Professor Cor van der Weele has a doctorate in the philosophy of biology and is especially interested in hidden ambivalence: the tension caused by opposing emotions that can occur when faced with personal or societal issues. She investigated the way in which people like to solve such issues with strategic ignorance: as long as we don’t know too much, we won’t feel guilty and won’t need to adjust our behaviour. We much rather stick our heads in the sand.
This is also the case when it comes to meat production and consumption. “But now the shadow side of meat has become an increasingly frequent topic of conversation, it is becoming harder not to have an uncomfortable feeling about meat”, Van der Weele says. So it was a pleasure for her to investigate whether cultured meat can make an impact on our feelings and behaviour, or whether it just raises new moral issues. The surprising conclusion is that the new in vitro meat technology is not necessarily in conflict with our values, but can actually help us achieve our ethical goals. Honouring tradition and making room for creativity are an essential part of this.