Meat in a petri dish.

Big Ag Is So Scared of Cultivated Meat, Legislators Are Banning It



Cultivated meat offers a solution to factory farming, and Big Ag is so scared that it’s lobbying legislators around the country to stop this innovation before it even hits shelves.

Florida and Alabama have both banned the sale, manufacturing, or distribution of cultivated meat this month in an effort to appease Big Ag lobbyists and “protect ranchers,” according to Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis. Florida’s legislature has been working to ban cultivated meat since 2023.

Other states including Arizona and Tennessee are also considering banning cultivated meat products. The current bills do not ban all innovative animal-free meats, such as Impossible Meat or Beyond Meat, or plant-based substitutes such as tofu, seitan, or tempeh. 

Lindsay Oliver, World Animal Protection US’s Executive Director stated: 

“The ban on cultivated meat in Florida and Alabama denies animals, consumers, and local businesses the benefits of innovative proteins. Holding back innovation is endorsing the cruelty rampant in animal agriculture. Governor DeSantis and Governor Kay Ivey are leaving Florida and Alabama in the dark while the rest of the world moves forward.”

Florida Senator Lori Berman told NBC:

“The cattle industry lobbied against cultivated meat, so we are now banning an entire industry in our state. We’re just short-changing an entire industry.”

Cell-cultivated meat is animal tissue grown directly from animal cells. This slaughter-free product has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of animals forced into factory farm systems around the world and the massive amounts of waste the industry generates. 

In the United States, only two companies have been approved to sell their cultivated meat chicken products to consumers, though it has yet to be widely available to Americans. So, the industry is being banned before it even exists.

This is par for the course for Big Ag, who spent well over $523 million lobbying Congress over the past five years to protect its unethical behavior. Big Ag fights to keep consumers uninformed about the ongoings in the industry while working to remove competing alternatives for Americans to purchase. 

According to a report by the Food Environment Program at UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists), Big Ag spends more money than either Big Oil or defense contractors to influence legislators to vote in their favor. In fact, agribusiness spent a record-breaking $165 million in federal lobbying in 2022 alone. 

However, banning cultivated meat isn’t the first time Big Ag tried to stop innovative competitors. 

FOIA requests found that, in 2013, the American Egg Board tried to undermine Just Egg (formally Just Mayo/Hampton Creek), which produces egg-free mayo, dressings, and other plant-based egg products. Eat Just, Inc., the parent company of Just Egg, also owns the cultivated meat brand GOOD Meat and is one of the only two brands allowed to sell cultivated meat in the United States.

Emails revealed in the FOIA requests that former American Egg Board president, Joanne Ivy, sent communications to the organization’s public relations consultants, Edelman Inc., stating:

"It would be a good idea if Edelman looked at this product as a crisis and major threat to the future of the egg product business.”

The American Egg Board also paid Edelman to monitor every story about the company. 

In order to undermine Just Egg, the American Egg Board reported the brand to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a “misleading” name, urged a consultant to call Whole Foods to persuade the supermarket to keep their Just Mayo product off the shelf, and even joked about putting a hit out on Just’s CEO

The American Egg Board, while funded by the egg industry, is actually overseen by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS). Similar boards, such as the National Pork Board, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and American Lamb Board, are also overseen by the USDA.

It’s no secret that Big Ag and other powerful lobbying industries are afraid of things consumers actually want—like products that align with their values and don’t hide behind misleading label claims.

If we want to protect animals and alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs, we must vote with our forks and at the ballot box. By withdrawing our support and refusing to purchase factory-farmed products, we can make a positive impact by reducing the number of animals exploited and killed each year for our plates.

Interested in starting your journey to eliminate animal products from your diet? Check out our community of Plant-Powered Changemakers who can give you tips, tricks, and vegan recipes to help you get started!

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