Meat and Sustainability
We study the changes in food cultures and the global rise in meat consumption.
How can we address the question of sustainable food cultures, and the global rise in meat consumption? We need to understand the cultural changes of the quite recent past.
While we generally understand overall production and provision processes that have allowed high meat consumption, these processes are undergoing rapid changes through globalization and the entering of new actors. But less attention has been given to how and why meat consumption changes.
What kind of meat is consumed, how is it prepared in local meals and how do people relate to meat and meat products? Recently there have been significant changes in both affluent and developing countries.
These changing meat cultures are explored in the following projects:
1. Book project: Meat
Read more about the project on the Norwegian website.
2. Book project: Changing Meat Cultures
For most people in the industrialized world, meat has become a common part of the diet. We consume more meat than ever before while the average consumer’s knowledge of meat and meat production seems more absent than ever. Meat is increasingly becoming a contested foodstuff – for reasons of health, animal welfare and sustainability. According to the UN, as much as 18 % of the global emission of greenhouse gasses stem from livestock systems and meat production. While meat consumption has peaked in many affluent countries, there are major changes in what type of meat is consumed. Globally, meat consumption continues increasing rapidly. This increase is now driven particularly by increasing consumption in ‘the South’, often among parts of the global population that consumed little or no meat in the past.
To understand how we can address the change in food cultures we need to understand the cultural changes of the quite recent past. While we have a fairly good understanding of the overall production and provision processes that have allowed high meat consumption, these processes are undergoing rapid changes through globalization and the entering of new actors, often from so-called developing countries. Furthermore, less attention has been given to how and why meat consumption changes. The type of meat consumed, the ways it is prepared in local meals and the manners in which people relate to meat and meat products have seen significant changes in both affluent and developing countries. These changing meat cultures are the starting point of this book.
3. Changing cultures of meat consumption in developing countries
Read more about the project (in Spanish).
4. Book project: LIVE DIE BUY EAT
Live, die, buy, eat. These four words both summarize the production of meat in the modern world, and categorize the way in which we relate to animals and meat. In the past few years, controversies around meat have arisen around industrialization and globalization of meat production, often pivoting around health, environmental problems, and animal welfare issues.
Although meat increasingly figures as a problem, most consumers’ knowledge of animal husbandry and meat is more absent than ever. How is meat produced, and where? How do we consume meat, and how have our consumption habits changed? Why have these changes occurred, and what are the social and cultural consequences of these changes?
This book takes the reader on an ethnographic and historical journey to rural and urban Norway, and tells the story of the dramatic changes in meat production and consumption using this one country as a case study.
5. Geographies of meatification
Human diets are rapidly transforming. Geographer Tony Weis writes about ‘meatification’ as the intrinsically capitalist process whereby animal meat assumes increasing importance in consumption patterns across the world. Meatification is also crucially about changing patterns of producing and distributing food – altering agricultural practices towards animal rearing and killing as well as the cultivation of animal feed crops. Agricultural patterns are thus increasingly centering on the ‘industrial grain-oilseed-livestock complex’ with manifold consequences. These processes, however, take different shapes as they unfold in new parts of the Global South, including in rapidly meatifying middle-income countries. This project responds to the need for careful study of emergent geographies of meatification. Focusing especially on Asian countries, the project seeks to explore changing agricultural practices and the transformation of agrarian spaces, linking these processes to everyday consumption patterns and urban ‘meatscapes’, as well as large-scale processes of trade and commodity flows, international relations of food and agriculture and the power and agency of agribusiness and state actors.