Hubbub probes our protein pressures

By : Stine Wilhelmsen
Sep 13, 2016

Is it possible to use the summer holidays as a hook to bust common freezer myths? Can you engage people in protein choices by bringing them together to taste mealworm arancini? Since our beginning, Hubbub has experimented with ways of creating a noise about environmental issues in a way that means something for all.

In its first 2 years, our food hub focused mainly on food waste, using seasonal events to address a year-round issue. Common to all our campaigns is the focus on what is gained, not what is given up.  This approach has born fruit so far with campaigns such as the Pumpkin Rescue, New Leaf and the Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain.


Unpacking protein

Building on learnings from our food waste campaigns, we decided it was time to stop beating around the “grown for animal feed” bush, we would join others such as the Eating Better Alliance in venturing into the complex landscape of meat consumption and sustainable diets. To understand more about the pressures that inspire and prevent dietary changes – people’s “Protein Pressures” - we joined forces with the University of Southampton to run a series of community workshops in East London, these were accompanied by public events at Somerset House.

Hosted in partnership with Made in Hackney and Redmond Community Centre, the workshops brought together a diverse group to break bread and engage in a free range conversation about protein. Each workshop centred around a specific topic and form of protein, from plant-based, to chicken and fish, to meat and dairy.  

The research revealed that the triggers inspiring change are as broad as a bean, ranging from health scares to financial situation, moving house, changing partner or stumbling upon new ingredients. When encouraged to look back at their “Food Life”, many people were surprised at the extent in which they had made changes in the past. This opened up a window of opportunity for imagining future change.

The barriers preventing change proved equally complex, ranging from lack of skills in preparing plant-based foods, absence of vegetarian alternatives, comfort of familiar tastes, and fear of offending family or friends. Many people reported saving eating meat for dining out, feeling that professionals would be better equipped to prepare, and “sustainably source” meat, suggesting that meat is increasingly becoming a treat best enjoyed guilt-free.

An offal mess, really. 


Lighten Up Britain

 Subverting meat and masculinity messaging in packaging at Somerset House. Sarah Weigold/Hubbub

A common obstacle to eating less meat was a lack of skills and knowledge on how to prepare plant-based meals. To inspire people to put meat to the side, we joined forces with the likes of LEON, Made in Hackney and Food Cycle, to lighten the meat content of the UK’s family favourite dinners and create the Lighter Britain Recipe Booklet. This was launched at a Somerset House panel discussion in late August where speakers from LEON, Dissident and WeAreVeganury discussed the role of the creative industry in engaging people in protein choices. Beyond bringing people together to share mealworm dumplings, the panel event confirmed the need for cross-sector collaboration also identified in the research.


Men & Meat

A main take away from the research is that campaigns have to be upbeat, positive and target a specific audience. Focusing on the upsides of diversification rather than abstinence is much more likely to resonate with a mainstream audience. Building on these learnings, Hubbub will be dishing out a platter of highly targeted campaigns in 2017, beginning with Men and Meat. Hubbub is collaborating with Eating Better on a Do it Day brief on Men and Meat. To inform this campaign, Hubbub is collaborating with Eating Better on a Do it Day challenge around Men and Meat. Hubbub is also looking for chefs, food professionals, and bacon-loving blokes to join a Men & Meat focus group. Keen to join Hubbub around the table? Get in touch.  


Read the full report on Protein Pressures.

Stine Wilhelmsen is Project Coordinator at Hubbub. 

Pictures by Sarah Weigold/Hubbub.

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