Dr Zoe Mayer of Germany’s Green Party: “The Bottom Line is That We Greens Want to Support and Shape the Development of Cell-Cultured Meat”

Dr Zoe Mayer was already politically active in her youth. She joined the Alliance 90/The Greens party at the age of 14. The Karlsruhe-born politician has been a member of the Bundestag (the German federal parliament) since 2021.

Animal welfare and climate protection are particularly close to her heart. If parts of society’s meat requirements can be provided by cell-cultured products, she believes that animal husbandry can be reduced and restructured. And that would be good for the animals and the climate. “The question is not whether cell-cultured meat will come, but how,” she says.

In this interview, Dr Zoe Mayer talks about why she understands people’s fears about the new technology, why she expects to see a movement against cultured meat in Germany, and why she herself would not eat in-vitro products in the long term.

Mrs Mayer, climate protection and animal welfare are your two main areas of focus. How long have you been interested in animal welfare?
Since I was a child. It has always affected me emotionally when I have seen how people treat animals. In sixth grade, I collected donations for an animal shelter with my classmates. Later, I watched a lot of the relevant videos. I just thought: What’s happening? And I realised over time that these are not just exceptions.

How did you come across the topic of cell-cultured meat?
The topic has been developing for years and I have followed it with interest. I think it could be an alternative for many people.

Do you think that in a few years or decades, we will all be eating only cell-cultured meat, or will it remain more of a niche product?
That would be reading too much into it. Ultimately, nobody can say. Above all, we don’t know how acceptance among the population will develop. But what should definitely not happen is a kind of culture war. Despite all the different points of view, we must not forget that nobody has to eat cultured meat. And if it comes onto the market, then only if it fulfils the highest safety standards of the European Union.


The issue of cell-cultured meat has become increasingly well-known in recent years. But are all politicians aware of it?
I think everyone is aware of it now – but not everyone is in favour of it. We are currently seeing this in many other countries such as Italy, Austria, and France, where there are movements against cultured meat. This will also happen in Germany – for example on the part of the AFD.

“Ultimately, it is important that there is freedom of choice”

There are also critical voices among the Greens. And there are also points that still need to be clarified. For example, the cultivation of meat is very energy-intensive. This means that perhaps not every animal foodstuff should be cultivated. And it also remains necessary to reduce the overall consumption of animal products. The bottom line is that we Greens want to support and shape the development of cell-cultured meat.

TV chef Sarah Wiener, who is a member of the European Parliament for the Austrian Green Party until June 2024, has publicly railed against cell-cultured meat, calling it unnatural, among other things.
These debates are taking place everywhere. There are many reservations about new technologies, especially in the area of nutrition. And it is also an understandable instinct. Many of the horror scenarios that some people imagine cannot be explained rationally, but we still have to deal with these fears.

And again: no one is forced to eat cultured meat. The products are also clearly labelled, of course. If only because many people don’t want to eat meat at all – regardless of whether it is conventionally produced or cultured. Ultimately, it is important that there is freedom of choice, that the products are safe and healthy and that good information is provided.

Would you eat cultured meat as a vegan?
If the products are safe and healthy, then I’m open to it. But it probably won’t become a regular part of my diet. After all, it is meat and not as beneficial from an environmental point of view as vegetables, for example.

This interview was conducted and made available by the journalist Susanne van Veenendaal. As part of a book project on cell-cultured meat entitled ‘The new meat culture – Why cultured meat can be good for animals, humans, and the environment’, which van Veenendaal is working on together with Christoph Werner and Bastian Huber, she is talking to various German companies, researchers and initiatives in the industry.

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