Setting the TABLE for COP27: Plating up the future of meat

What the future of meat should look like is a deeply personal and contested affair. How much and what types of meat should we eat, and how should the meat we eat be produced?

As one of the primary sources of emissions in our food system, many experts and practitioners agree the production of livestock will have to be rethought in the coming years, but exactly how remains in deep contention. In 2015, Dr Tara Garnett reflected on the potential paths for meat in the piece Gut feelings and possible tomorrows: (where) does animal farming fit? ( From different stakeholders’ takes on the solutions to animal farming, the piece spun four futures into scenarios that attempted to unearth the values and assumptions that drive these views and imagine how these futures might evolve.

Inspired by this piece of writing and funded by Formas, TABLE is launching a new podcast project called Meat: The Four Futures. This new project asks the questions: Does a plant-based meatless future lead to planet-friendly eating or is it going against nature? The alternative “meat” future promises meat without animals – is that a utopian or dystopian vision? Does ‘less but better’ meat promote a triple-win for animals, people and the planet, or is it actually elitist and unrealistic? And is efficient meat 2.0 the only way to feed the planet and conserve biodiversity or is it the root of society’s problems?

These tradeoffs provide a real framework for conversation about the future. The issues are complex and the debates are often heated, bringing to the fore fundamental questions about how much meat we should consume in the future, how that meat should be produced, and how we’ll achieve that future.

To explore these questions in more detail, please join TABLE for a panel discussion bringing together four key thinkers and researchers who will each tackle one of the four scenarios identified in Meat: The Four Futures. These panelists will present the evidence they find most convincing for their preferred future, what other future scenarios they agree or disagree with, and how they envision achieving their version of a more sustainable and just food system.