Democrats Are More Receptive to Cultivated Meat Than Republicans

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The perception of cultivated meat is more positive among Democrat and Independent voters in the US, as opposed to Republicans.

On Monday, Florida officially banned cultivated meat, making it a felony to sell, manufacture, produce or distribute these proteins in the state.

It comes three months before a similar law by Alabama comes into effect. These legislative measures have been playing to the culture wars surrounding meat in the US during an election year.

Describing cultivated meat as ‘fake meat’ and/or ‘lab-grown’ (a term despised by the alternative protein industry), the messaging around these bans has been hostile, protectionist and misleading.

And while certain bills hoping to restrict cultivated meat do have bipartisan support, the majority of these proposals have skewed Republican. Florida and Alabama are both Republican-majority states, but bans or restrictions are also being discussed in Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Nebraska and Wisconsin – all of these are controlled by Republicans for now.

This year has perhaps one of the highest-stakes US elections in recent memory, and while broad support for cultivated meat is low, partisan politics has – unfortunately – played a major role in the way things have gone so far.

Conservative media has stroked the fire even further, painting a US government grant for cultivated meat research as a move to treat troops as “guinea pigs” and force them to eat these proteins. (We won’t link these stories, as they deliberately spread misinformation, but a quick Google search will get you there if you’re curious.)

A new survey by Morning Consult confirms the reality of how cultivated meat is perceived across the American political spectrum. Asking 2,201 adults about their views on this food, it found a disparity between the left and the right, underscoring how conspiracy theories about the “global elite” have shaped perceptions in the US, where 15% of people don’t believe climate change is real.

Democrats more positive about cultivated meat

lab grown meat republicans
Courtesy: Morning Consult

The Morning Consult poll found that while similar shares of Democrats, Republicans and independents had seen, read or heard about cultivated meat, how they perceive the innovation differs greatly.

Democrats are far more likely to have a net-positive opinion on cultivated meat (the difference between the number of people who like a product versus those who don’t). For example, the net share of Democrats who say cultivated meat is good for the environment is 36, versus nine for independents and seven for Republicans.

This is the only metric that had a net-positive response from Republicans and independents, although Republicans are far more likely to say that conventional meat is climate-friendly (a net-positive share of 41).

But even Democrats are much more divided over other aspects of cultivated meat, highlighting the need for greater awareness about this food. When asked whether cultivated meat is nutritious, the Democrat net share is 15, while the Republicans have a more negative opinion (-7). Similar perceptions exist about the healthfulness of cultivated meat for both Democrats (net 10) and Republicans (-4).

Meanwhile, a net share of Democrats who find cultivated meat tasty is 10 as well, versus -5 for independents, and -4 for Republicans, highlighting the challenges facing producers in this space.

Cultivated meat trails behind plant-based in people’s minds

lab grown meat survey
Courtesy: Morning Consult

If there’s one thing all voters agree on, it’s that cultivated meat isn’t minimally processed, with net-negative scores across all three sects of respondents. Overall, the net share of Americans who think this is a minimally processed food is -10, compared to 14 for plant-based meat and 33 for conventional meat.

“And while at the core, this may not be a positive or negative trait, the challenge is that consumers define foods that are more processed as being more unhealthy,” writes Morning Consult analyst Lindsey Roeschke. “In order to win over mainstream consumers, companies in this space will have to be clear about the production process; even if it raises concerns for some, the transparency may help to build trust among others,” she adds.

Affordability is another key aspect. Currently, cultivated meat is much more expensive than conventional or even plant-based versions. This is reflected in the fact that the net share of Americans who find farmed meat affordable is 27, versus -4 for plant-based and -5 for cultivated.

But despite the low score, a significantly higher number of respondents (net 12) say vegan meat analogues have a good value. This has increased over the last year, which suggests that “brands in the space have done a good job of demonstrating the value of higher price tags”, according to Roeschke.

The largest gap concerns taste – a net share of 85 find conventional meat tasty, versus just 11 for plant-based meat and -1 for cultivated meat. But where the opportunity lies for the latter is the climate front. Plant-based meat scored the highest (net 38) when it comes to being good for the environment, but this is a six-point decrease from early 2023.

“Given declining perceptions of plant-based meat as environmentally friendly, brands in the cultivated meat space have an opportunity to position themselves as a sustainable alternative to win market share – that is, if they can prove that it is actually true,” says Roeschke. Analysis has shown that cultivated meat produced via renewable energy lowers the impact on global heating by 92%, requires 95% less land, and uses 78% less water than farmed beef.

That said, more people believe conventional meat is more climate-friendly (net 24) than cultivated meat (net 19).

Older demographics emerge as surprising audience

cultivated meat survey
Courtesy: Morning Consult

While there is a school of thought that associates alternative protein consumption with younger demographics, Morning Consult’s results found something surprising.

Only small fractions of consumers said they follow diets such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc., and of those who do, younger Americans were more likely to be practising these.

However, things take a turn when you look at who is trying to reduce meat consumption in their diets. Baby boomers (usually those aged 60 and above) are the group most likely to be cutting back on meat. This trend likely exists because older consumers are being advised to decrease saturated fat and cholesterol, which are both found in high quantities in conventional meat. Since the reduction in meat is driven by health over other aspects, cultivated meat could prove to be a good stand-in.

But this will only be possible through a major uptick in education for boomers. Only 31% of them have heard about cultivated meat, versus 45% of millennials and 54% of Gen Zers. Plus, this is the only age group that has a net-negative perception about the nutritional qualities of cultivated meat.

And once again, affordability is a major hurdle. Baby boomers are 19 points less likely than all Americans to say cultivated meat represents good value, and 21 points less likely to find it affordable.

Nevertheless, this is an opportunity for cultivated meat companies, which Roeschke suggests would “want to focus not just on consumers who represent an obvious best fit, but also those who may represent incremental gains”.


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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