Exhibitions Meat the Future

The time has come to start a debate about the future of meat.

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The time has come to start a debate about the future of meat. Now that the world population is approaching towards 9 billion people in 2050 it has become untenable to keep the production and consumption of meat going the way we have been doing so far. The warming up of our earth, energy consumption, animal diseases and expected worldwide food shortages are only a number of food issues that are in store for us. And all of this does not even include the issues of animal-unfriendly conditions in intensive animal farming that are frequent subjects of debate. Shall we end up eating rice, beans and seaweed burgers only? Or maybe insects?

Scientists see cultured meat as a sustainable and animal-friendly alternative. Animal cells are grown in a bioreactor and eventually this results in a piece of cultured meat. The Netherlands have taken a leading role in the development of cultured meat and the first hamburger containing lab-grown meat has already been fried. But for most of us eating meat that comes from a lab is not yet an attractive idea. Not without reason, because before we can make the decision whether or not we want to eat cultured meat, we will have to explore the gastronomic culture that comes with it.

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

 Winston Churchill, 1931

Apart from the fact that it is a tempting concept to recreate the familiar burgers, sausages and steaks with meat that is in no way connected with animals, the in-vitro industry has a potential all of its own that is hard to imagine at the moment. The Meat The Future exhibition presents 30 cultured meat dishes that we could find on our plates in the future. The exhibition is set up as a restaurant of the future that serves cultured meat and is split into four separate sections that each explore an issue that may concern cultured meat:

  1. The need for a sustainable production.
  2. Prevention of food shortages.
  3. Prevention of animal abuse.
  4. Gaining uniquely novel eating experiences.

As cultured meat is still in its development stage, you cannot (yet) try the dishes. The number of stars attributed to each dish indicate its technological feasibility: one star means that for the time being it is technically impossible to prepare the dish. Five-star dishes could be prepared even now.

The dishes presented were created by a team of chefs, designers and artists in an attempt to explore the possibilities of cultured meat. The dishes range from knitted pieces of meat to meat-fruit. They are unique and absolutely delicious, sometimes they are an acquired taste or downright disturbing. We do not want to forecast the future, but rather show a whole range of potential food products and food cultures that may help us decide what sort of future we are looking for. Enjoy your debate!

Koert van Mensvoort, curator Meat the Future.

Next Nature Network

Virtual worlds, printed food, living cities, wild robots – we’re so surrounded by technology that it’s becoming our next nature. How can we live in harmony with it? The Next Nature Network is a 21st century nature organization that wants to go forward – not back – to nature. We stir debates, create events, exhibitions, publications and products that bring biology and technology into balance. Because ultimately, we may not just have to save the pandas but the people too. Join us! on www.nextnature.nl.

Exhibition concept

Next Nature Network
Cube Design Museum

Texts and graphic design

Next Nature Network

We are indebted to:

Mark Post



Meat the Future