Meat The Future – a joint exhibition from Oxford University’s Livestock Environment and People (LEAP) research programme and the University’s Museum of Natural History – is set to give visitors some serious food for thought about how the production and consumption of animal products affect people and planet.
Whether you are a dedicated carnivore, a devoted vegan or somewhere in between, there is growing awareness that livestock farming is contributing to climate change, ill health, biodiversity loss and species extinction, though it does provide livelihoods for a large number of people. Alternatives to meat-based diets are expanding: from plant-based eating to edible insects, and from meat replacements to lab-cultured meats, the search for a greener and healthier way to live is in full swing.
The new Meat The Future exhibition asks us to consider the role of meat in our diets, and looks at scenarios for a lower meat future. Visitors will encounter mock-ups of a bistro, supermarket, farmhouse kitchen and a butcher’s shop; they will compare meat consumption in some of the world’s highest and lowest-consuming countries, hear from people whose livelihoods are linked to agriculture and work out the carbon footprint of their typical weekly shop. They will have the opportunity to test out an idea for ‘ecolabelling’ food as green, amber and red – a potential new system to give shoppers information about the environmental impact of their shopping habits.
With COP26 and a new National Food Strategy for England fast approaching, the exhibition comes at a pivotal moment. Researchers, farmers, policy makers, public health officials, environmental groups, retailers and consumers are all considering the options for the future of food. The past 60-years has seen global meat consumption soar, and it is now considered normal in many countries to eat meat with almost every meal. But as demand skyrockets, more animals need to be reared, and the greenhouse gas emissions from cows and sheep get ever greater.
Through art, science, natural history specimens and digital interactives, Meat The Future asks some critical questions: How do we square our demand for meat with the need to tackle the climate crisis? What would a lower-meat future look like? And how can we safeguard human health and livelihoods while protecting the environment? Discover the meat future you want with this innovative exhibition.
Meat The Future 28th May 2021 – 16th January 2022 Oxford University Museum of Natural History www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk
About Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1860 as the centre for scientific study at the University of Oxford, the Museum now holds the University’s internationally significant collections of entomological, geological and zoological specimens. Housed in a stunning Pre-Raphaelite-inspired example of neo-Gothic architecture, the Museum’s growing collections underpin a broad programme of natural environment research, teaching and public engagement. In 2015, the Museum was a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for ‘Museum of the Year’. In 2016, it won the top accolade, ‘Best of the Best’, in the Museums + Heritage Awards.
The Livestock, Environment and People research programme is funded by Wellcome Trust.