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Taking Animals Out of Meat: Meat Industries and the Rise of Meat Alternatives

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Sustainable Consumption and Production, Volume II

Abstract

The industrial production and excessive consumption of animal meat is increasingly related to environmental, ethical, and health issues. Meat alternatives have emerged as a promising solution to these issues. These foodstuffs that are intended to liken animal-based meat are frequently made from plant-based proteins, but may also be grown from animal tissue in laboratories. With an increasing interest in meat-free and meat-reduced diets, this chapter contributes to the book in two ways: It reviews the growing markets and trends as well as the sustainability potential of meat alternatives, and investigates how these trends may constitute opportunities and threats to the meat industry. Assuming that all ‘meats’ are mutually substitutable, it is argued that ‘non-animal meats’ can be considered a further step in the industrialisation of agriculture; hereby, the social, symbolic, and financial capital of the global meat industry enables it to continue ‘producing meat’ and to use these trends for further growth.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that extensive agriculture may happen in regions that are otherwise deemed unsuitable for crops for economic reasons. This is often tied to geography, soil quality, labour, or transport costs (see e.g. Audsley et al., 2006; Garnett, 2011), and may be differently advantageous for the global climate and local ecosystems (e.g. Nijdam et al., 2012).

  2. 2.

    Legumes are said to be even better for the environment (cf. Clune, Crossin, & Verghese, 2017; Mejia et al., 2019), but are usually not understood to be ‘meat alternatives’ through their lacking similarity to meat (cf. Shurtleff & Aoyagi, 2014).

  3. 3.

    Note however, that some businesses may be part of food corporations. For example, Quorn was founded by a leading bread manufacturer in the UK (see Trinci, 1992).

  4. 4.

    It may be argued that many animal-based meats are also highly processed foods, such as chemically cured meats based on animals from intensive farming.

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Acknowledgements

The research presented in this article is based on work conducted with financial support of the Sustainable Consumption Institute’s studentship. The funding had no impact on the views expressed in this work. I am grateful for the helpful comments made by the editors of this book, the reviewer and other participants at the book workshop, as well as my colleagues Ulrike Ehgartner, Shashwat Pande, and Godwin Chukwukelu.

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Rödl, M.B. (2021). Taking Animals Out of Meat: Meat Industries and the Rise of Meat Alternatives. In: Bali Swain, R., Sweet, S. (eds) Sustainable Consumption and Production, Volume II. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-55285-5_6

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