New exhibition Meat the Future explores if going vegan will save the planet

A fillet of lab-grown cultured chicken developed by Eat Just, photo: Eat Just, Inc/Reuters
A fillet of lab-grown cultured chicken developed by Eat Just, photo: Eat Just, Inc/Reuters

Science and art come together in a new British exhibition that hopes to raise awareness about the environmental impact of eating meat.

“Globally, we eat too much meat, and we need to reduce it,” Kelly Richards, exhibition officer at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, told AFP.

Meat the Future presents research on the environmental and health impacts of eating meat, and offers visitors a variety of future scenarios.

Richard hopes the “Meat The Future” exhibition, which opened Friday, will “give people the information that allows them to make up their own mind about the kind of future that they want”.

The show uses interactive installations and works from artists to highlight the environmental costs of meat consumption, which has tripled worldwide in 50 years.

Britons eat on average 223 grams of meat per day, a figure that is a lot more than the global average, said John Lynch, a physicist specializing in the environmental impact of agriculture.

He estimated that agriculture’s emissions would be halved if everyone became flexitarian, where people still eat meat, but only rarely.

Which type of meat is most polluting? What are the health risks and benefits of eating meat? These are the questions that 10 University of Oxford researchers have tried to answer in a mathematical but playful attempt to move visitors towards a more responsible diet.

Visitors can also take a virtual shopping trip, with 10,000 products with an “environmental score” evaluating their ecological impact.

“If you go into a supermarket, you often don’t see that information,” Lynch said. “So one of the parts of the research project is looking at different labeling schemes so that you might have an environmental score or a ranking.”

The exhibition also looks at the benefit of meat alternatives, like soy, tempeh and tofu, insects and lab-grown meat.

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