Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 45–66 | Cite as

Environmentally Sustainable Meat Consumption: An Analysis of the Norwegian Public Debate

  • Marthe Hårvik Austgulen
Original Paper


Private consumption is increasingly being blamed for resource depletion and environmental degradation, and the discourse of ascribing environmental responsibility to the individual consumer has become a part of mainstream policy-making. Measures aimed at promoting consumers' voluntary engagement through sustainable consumption now constitute an important part of public sustainability strategies. Nevertheless, the actual progress made in changing people's consumptions patterns in a more sustainable direction has been modest. Based on a quantitative and a qualitative content analysis of articles on environmentally sustainable consumption of meat published in five national and regional newspapers in Norway between 2000 and 2010, it is argued in this article that an important reason for the lack of both political and consumer engagement in the issue can be attributed to a discursive confusion that arises from a simultaneous existence of mainly two clashing discourses on what is actually environmentally sustainable consumption of meat. One that is focussing on the environmentally malign aspects of consumption and production of (especially) red meat, and another that is focussing on the environmentally benign aspects of production and consumption of red meat. The findings imply that the lack of consensus on the character of the problem constitutes a major barrier for the opportunity to change people's consumption patterns in a more environmentally sustainable direction through the use of voluntary measures.


Environmentally sustainable consumption Meat Self-regulation Media analysis Public debate Environment 



This article greatly benefitted from comments from colleague Siv Elin Ånestad on earlier versions. Ånestad also did the initial data searches for this article. Moreover, I would like to thank the editors of JCP and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Finally, I would like to thank the participants in the project on sustainable regulation, of which this article is a result of, for their valuable comments. The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO)OsloNorway

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