A shocking new reality television show is to ask families to go vegetarian or eat their own pet.
Meat the Family will ask four heavy meat-eating families to take home and look after an ‘animal which ends up most often on their plates’.
Animals featured in the first few episodes, due to air on Channel 4, include a lamb, a pig, a chicken and a calf, with families having to look after one for three weeks.
If at the end of that time they refuse to stop eating meat, their animal will be slaughtered and they will be asked to cook and eat it.
Meat the Family will ask four heavy meat-eating families to take home and look after an ‘animal which ends up most often on their plates’ (pictured, one of the families featured with their pig)
It comes as experts say we have to eat less meat to stave off climate change, with Channel 4 turning the dilemma stomach-churningly stark.
Analyst Virginia Mouseler called the show ‘the most transgressive’ of the year at MIPCOM, the world’s biggest entertainment market in Cannes, France.
‘It is not sex or drugs anymore. Meat is becoming the next taboo,’ the founder of The Wit database said.
‘The question they are asking is how can you cuddle your dog while you are putting another animal in the oven?
‘They have to treat this animal like a member of the family for three weeks.
‘Then in the end they have to decide whether they put it in the oven’ or whether it goes to an animal sanctuary.
Channel 4 said the three hour-long shows will confront ‘the reality of an animal’s journey from field to plate.’
Animals featured in the first few episodes, due to air on Channel 4, include a lamb, a pig, a chicken and a calf, with families having to look after one for three weeks (pictured, one of the families with their pet pig)
They said the show also seriously examines ‘animal behaviour and intelligence, the farming practices required to meet the demands of hungry consumers… and the environmental impact of the meat industry.’
Daniela Neumann, head of the makers Spun Gold, defended the premise, saying it was taking on ‘some really timely themes of ethical eating’ and well as asking difficult questions.
‘Why do we find it acceptable to eat a lamb but we wouldn’t eat our pet dog? Could you go back to meat once you’ve put a name and face to a meal?’
She insisted the series also contained some ‘heart-warming moments’.
Nicola Brown, Commissioning Editor, Specialist Factual at Channel 4, added: ‘From environmental activism to vegan sausage rolls the debate around eating meat and animal welfare is more prominent than ever before.
‘Confronting the reality of an animal’s journey from field to plate, Meat the Family will be a life changing and emotional experiment for all involved.’
Wave of new shows due to deal with social responsibility, including the impact of cocaine use on Colombian communities
‘Meat the Family’ is one of a wave of new shows that deal with social responsibility and ways to heal a fractured world.
They include another Channel 4 show which focuses on everyday racism.
In the ‘Segregation Experiment’, a diverse class of British schoolchildren discover how racist ideas can slip unconsciously into the culture, and how unconscious bias can affect people’s lives.
‘Racial prejudice is tested in a class of 11- and 12-year-old kids,’ analyst Virginia Mouseler said, ‘through games and activities’ as the programme poses the question, ‘Could we be racist without knowing it?’
Elsewhere, a new Dutch show, ‘The Cocaine Trials’, and the British Channel 5 series ‘Doing Drugs for Fun?’ both confront casual cocaine users with the consequences of their habit on the Colombian communities where the substance is illegally farmed and refined.
Mouseler said the shows confronts millennials, who say they care about the planet, with their ‘double standards’ and brings home a few home truths about the devastation the trade causes both in South America and in Europe.
Another Dutch show called ‘Take Over, Take Care’ has celebrities move in with sick and elderly people to give their caregivers some respite and allow them to go on holiday.
The show is meant to highlight how one in three people have to look after relatives or friends.
Broadcasters in Germany, Britain and Ireland are also looking at age in two similar social experiments, putting lonely elderly people living in homes that are too big for them together with cash-starved millennials who cannot afford to rent.
‘Lodgers’ and ‘OAP B&B’ both serve up cross-generational cultural shock which often forges genuine and quite touching friendships, an idea the Australian pilot ‘My 80 Year Old Flatmate’ has also played with.
MTV, meanwhile, has tackled the painful phenomenon of online ‘ghosting’, where people cut off friends without explanation, by bringing former pals together to attempt to resolve their differences.