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ESL Advanced Conversation Topics - Victimless Meat

Updated on April 19, 2015

Ever wondered what a $300,000 burger would taste like? Read about the world's first meat meal that no animal had to be slaughtered for.

This is a great ESL conversation topic for upper-intermediate and advanced levels. It contains a fascinating text, which acts as the basis of your discussion theme, and 16 conversation questions.

Time: 40-60 minutes

ESL Advanced Conversation Topics - Victimless Meat


Warm Up

  • How often do you eat meat and fish a week?

  • Do you ever worry that your meals might be having an effect on the environment?

  • Would you change your diet to save the world?

Reading – Victimless Meat

What's the big deal?

It's hard to imagine that what we put on our dinner tables is having a devastating effect on our planet. But more and more scientists are becoming worried about the repercussions of our culinary choices. A British study claims that a reduction in the consumption of meat would have far-reaching consequences for food waste prevention, deforestation, food and water security, loss of biodiversity and emissions of harmful gases into the ozone. Who would have thought that what was in your fridge would contribute to so much climate change?

Here are some of the facts: by choosing beef instead of potatoes, grains or rice, farmers need to use 160 times more land, resulting in 11 times more greenhouse gases. At the moment meat productions accounts for one third of land across the global land area and one-fifth of global greenhouse gases. One-fifth! That's more than the entire transport sector!

Our growing appetites

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that Britons eats about 85kg of meat - 33 chickens, one pig, three-quarters of a sheep, and a fifth of a cow. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US had the one of the largest consumptions, horsing into 124.8kg of meat annually. But this number was superseded by Denmark with a shocking 145.9kg per person in 2002. By 2050 they predict that with the increased consumption in China and Brazil, the world will be eating twice as much meat, since there will be around 9 billion of us. It looks like we're going to eat ourselves into extinction!

Lab burgers for dinner?

But don't fret, there is a solution... It involves growing protein in petri dishes and is known as cultured meat or victimless meat. The first lab burger was grown in a university in the Netherlands and cost a staggering $300,000, which was funded by Google's co-founder Sergey Brin.

Victimless meat has many benefits. For one, it is a more humane way of getting our meat. Additionally, it generates 96% less greenhouse gases, 99% less land use and 45% less energy. Theoretically it would be healthier to eat because the quantity and quality of fat can be controlled. And the spread of animal-borne diseases can be prevented.

What does it taste like?

But what does it taste like? The world's first lab-grown burger was cooked and then eaten at a news conference in 2013. One food expert Ms Ruetzler said it was “close to meat, but not that juicy” and another said “The mouth-feel is like meat. I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.”

Article adapted from:

Cow snout


Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think there is a food crisis?

  2. Are you curious to try this meat or do you think it is Frankenfood?

  3. Would you eat cultured meat to save the environment?

  4. Would you be able to go 1 day per week without eating meat? Could you go more?

  5. Have you tried vegetarian sausages or Quorn? What did you think?

  6. The Food and Agriculture Organisation also recommends eating insects instead of meat because they provide food at low environmental costs. Would you consider eating insects on a regular basis?

  7. Do you think that cultured meat would widen the gap between the consumer and the producer? Do you think it would give consumers less control?

  8. Have you heard of any stories of animal cruelty in the food industry?

  9. Do you think lab food could be safer than the food that comes out of the slaughterhouses?

  10. Do you think there could be any side effects to eating lab-grown meat?

  11. Discuss the pros and cons of switching to victimless meat.

  12. What are the other alternatives to the growing food problem?

  13. What do you think would be a reasonable price to pay for a lab burger?

  14. How would you try to change people's perspectives about victimless meat?

  15. We have a very serious situation where 1.4 billion people are obese and 1 billion are malnourished worldwide. We need innovations in food technology. Discuss.

  16. What is your opinion about GM foods?

© 2015 Muttface


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