This project explores how people will react to cultivated meat products in the future by introducing a set of fictional cultivated meat products via TikTok. The designed TikTok videos look at what debates, dialogues, and public discourse and context will happen and generate around lab-grown meat.
The supermarket shelves are filled with plant-based meat. Cultivated meat is on the horizon. People describe the plant-based meat alternatives they eat on a spectrum polarised between plants and meat according to their similarity to meat. People share their plant-based food reviews everywhere and anytime at TikTok. These findings make me more curious about how people will react to cultivated meat products in the future. What debates and dialogues, and public discourse and context will happen around lab-grown meat? How does in-vitro biotech change people’s daily life and food culture?
To Make the Unreal Real & To Invite the Future to Now
To make the unreal real, I made up a fictional biotech company called “Plant+ Meat-” and developed its brand identity. I also designed some discursive props. There are delivery boxes and three fictional cultivated meat product props, Broccopork, Mushchicken and Peaf, including meat models and relevant product packages. To invite the future to now, I set up a TikTok account called Meaty Auntie and conducted a series of short videos to introduce three future hybrid meaty plants, as mentioned above, to the public to provoke discussion and dialogue about in-vitro meat and collect people’s feedback.
The responses to this series of videos were incredibly varied. The comments are abundant in people's reactions to Broccopork and relevant meat cultivation biotech. Many other TikTokers reposted and dueted with the videos, amplifying the reach. Some individuals genuinely believed in the existence of Broccopork and were very concerned about this biotechnological development. They accused me of creating satire. Interestingly, some people saved the post with plans to purchase Broccopork in the future. Sadly, one person directly emailed me to ask where to buy it because of his genetic defects.
Expectedly, at the same time, there were some people who suspected and recognised this to be a piece of speculative design fiction and a typical Goldsmiths design work. And they positively regarded this as a social experiment over social media.
Until now, Broccopork continues to ripple through the future meat and general food community on TikTok, creating an ongoing discourse. So far, the designed TikTok videos have gained nearly 3 million views and thousands of comments and followers.
Here is the link to my TikTok account and videos.
Developed in consultation with cellular agriculture startup Hoxton Farms, the hybrid meaty plants are one potential category of cultivated meat products in the future, which is designed based on the plausibility of the current tissue engineering. Plants’ surface works as scaffolding, and meat tissue cells are grown along these structures. So customers can easily capture both the existence of meat and plants. The cognitive controversy and visual inconsistency stimulate the collision of different discussions and dialogues about meat, lab meat, plant-based meat and plants.