An exhibition by Oxford University’s LEAP (Livestock Environment and People) programme aims to show consumers the impact of animal products on the climate.

On 28 May 2021, a new touring installation was launched in Cardiff to get the UK talking about eating meat and its impacts on health and the environment. A new exhibition on the same issue will launch simultaneously at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History.

The installation and the exhibition will both help to disseminate research by Oxford University’s LEAP (Livestock Environment and People) programme that shows why a plant-based diet is the best bet for healthy humans and a healthy planet. Some of LEAP’s key findings are:

  • Even if we cut all fossil fuel emissions immediately, we still wouldn’t reach climate change targets without also cutting food emissions.
  • Eating high quantities of processed and unprocessed meat is associated with higher risks of colorectal cancer and ischemic heart disease among other diseases

Created by public engagement consultancy The Liminal Space, the installation ‘Meat Your Persona’ is a series of structures featuring different parts of an interactive quiz. Participants will discover which of six ‘meat personas’ they are, such as ‘Part-time Carnivore’ or ‘Adventurous Eater’. They will then learn how to improve their eating habits for their health and the planet and can seek more information from on-hand LEAP researchers about recent insights on meat production and consumption. Members of the public can also share their own views on how they feel about changing their own diets and where they think change needs to happen. These views will be shared with policy and decision-makers in order to help inform future food policy.

Susan Jebb, Professor of Population and Diet Health, LEAP, said: “Most people in the UK are unaware of the environmental impact of meat or the health harms caused by eating too much meat.  ‘Meat Your Persona’ will provide us with invaluable insight into the UK’s current thinking around meat consumption and hopefully encourage individuals’ to think more deeply about the impact their food choices have on our environment. This is often a difficult conversation to have, however we feel The Liminal Space have created a positive and engaging way to connect the public to our research.”

Over at Oxford’s Natural History Museum, the Meat the Future exhibition will present “cutting edge” research on meat’s environmental and health impacts and inform visitors about alternatives, such as eating less meat and lab-grown meat. The exhibition will show visitors the impacts of meat by presenting them with scenes of a butcher’s shop window, a bistro interior, and a supermarket meat aisle, where they will encounter others’ perspectives on meat consumption and facts about how much meat other countries eat, as well as learn how we are encouraged by retailers to buy more animal products.

In the supermarket section, mock-up products will bear new ecolabel packaging designed by behavioural scientists at Oxford to give a snapshot of the product’s carbon footprint, water use, biodiversity impact, and use of chemical fertiliser, pesticides or herbicides. An ‘online’ shopping site will allow visitors to learn about the carbon footprint of their own shopping habits, while an animated projection and specimens from the museum’s collection will show the connection between meat and the destruction of biodiversity in South America due to agricultural expansion.

Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Co-Director of LEAP, Professor of Population Biology, and Director of the Martin School at Oxford said: “With a population likely to peak above nine billion this century, Meat the Future asks how we square our growing demand for meat with the needs of the planet. An unavoidable conclusion is that we in the rich world need to reduce our per capita meat consumption, and this exhibition explores some of the ways that we, both as individuals and collectively, can make changes to our diets, as well as highlighting some of the difficult issues around making this a fair and just transition.”

These are not the first creative efforts to engage the public in the problems with meat and alternatives to animal agriculture. In 2014, artist Janice Tseng Lau created a travelling slaughterhouse to highlight the “mass atrocities of contemporary meat production”. In 2015, the In Vitro Meat Cookbook was published and shortly after Bistro In Vitro, a fictitious restaurant, was launched to explore how lab-grown meat can help to feed the world more sustainably. Cooking Sections, two London-based artists, use site-responsive installation, performance and video to examine “the systems that organise the world through food”.

Meat Your Persona will launch in Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre, and will then travel to Leeds, Newcastle, Blackpool, Glasgow. Meat the Future will run until 16th January 2022 and is free to visit.

Original source: https://www.surgeactivism.org