WP1: Founding meat

Research Questions

  • How has meat become a central part of Norwegian food practices? 
  • What can we learn from historical attempts to regulate meat-use in Norway? How do gender and identity  matter here? 
  • What is the impact of technology on values around meat-use and climate ?

During WWII and some years after food such as meat was regulated by a quota system in Norway, with consumers getting a weekly or monthly quota of meat set by the national nutritional expertise. The measure ensured that everyone had enough -and not too much- to eat, and regulated imports (Hjeltnes 1986, Lyngø 2006) (R3). Cookbook authors became vital for advising consumers on how to survive in a time when food provisioning was lacking (Finstad 2014, Horowitz 2006). New competences, foodstuffs, and ideas were devised to transfer to leaner times without too much suffering. This suggests that climate mitigation through meat-reduction will also require new competences, cookery tools and inspiration, besides dietary guidelines, and moderation (R3). The meaning of meat is crucial too. Meat is often analysed as ‘the quintessential masculine food’ (Adams 2010). Women are currently twice as likely to endorse vegetarian beliefs as men (Kalof et al. 1999), outnumber men when it comes to the main reasons for reducing meat (health, environment and animal welfare) (Bugge & Alfnes 2018), and they are more likely to have negative attitudes towards (red) meat (Kubberød et al. 2002) (R2, R1). If masculinity and femininity are viewed as ‘gender projects’ enacted through configurations of practices (Connell 1995), both meat consumption and reduction could be viewed as powerful ways of ‘doing gender’, challenging and/or reproducing gendered norms, ideals and patterns of inclusion and exclusion. Last, technologies of producing, killing, distributing and purchasing meat often obscure the animals and humans working to deliver meat (Vialles 1994, Efstathiou 2019) (R1). The disconnect between animal and ‘meat’ facilitates eating while not wishing to harm animals, the so-called ‘meat paradox’ (Loughnan et al. 2010, Ursin 2016). But this disconnect also leaves room to imagine new substitutes for ‘meat’ by artificial alternatives (R2), ushering new meat concepts.

WP2: Eating Meat

Research Questions

  • What are the food-related practices contributing to meat consumption in Norwegian households, and how are these justified/explained by different actors?
  • What conditions facilitate and complicate a reduction of meat consumption in Norwegian households? 

There are few reasons to believe we as humans are programmed to eat as much meat as possible (Weis 2013). The ‘practice turn’, which represents the theoretical and methodological starting point of this project, approaches consumption as parts of shared social practices, which are, in turn, shaped by social, bodily and material elements (Warde, 2014). Food-related practices such as those of cultivation, shopping, cooking, eating, eating out and wasting are key here. Eating in and eating out come with different levels of comfort and convenience. Meat consumption is neatly nested into various practices differing across culture, place and time, conditioned within systems of provision (selling, delivering, take-out, etc.) Dependencies created in existing systems of provision, policies for intensification, and relations with developing nations exporting meat to Norway are important to consider here (Aurdal & Omholt 2013).

WP3: Provisioning Meat

Research Questions

  • What is the potential for ecopreneurship in current organisational practices around meat?
  • What are key barriers and value conflicts in organisational practices around meat provision?
  • How can emotional experiences be seen as a driver for change?

Organisations can operate as agents of change through initiating a change in mindset among their customers and in the surrounding community. Small-scale green niche businesses can become collective movements that can change the direction of environmental politics, e.g. by lobbying local government (Pinkse & Groot 2015). Thus it is interesting to examine practices of organizational change and ecopreneurship, not only on the intra-organisational level, but also to a wider audience relevant to their specific enterprise. Transforming meat-production can threaten the livelihoods of farmers, butchers, and meat-packers. Hence, barriers may emerge in stakeholders and create conflicts between more and less intensively farmed industries. Norwegian agricultural subsidies are already critiqued as holding back a ‘badly perfoming’ sector (Hemmings 2016). Similarly, meadow-grazing comes out worse in emissions ‘intensity’ when compared to the ‘optimality’ of intensive farming meat yields (Steinfeld et al 2006). Yet meat-farming supports local crafts and professions, rural and indigenous practices, while grazing sustains cultural landscapes, biodiversity, enhancing animal welfare (Bergslid 2015). Emotions –both negative and positive– can play a crucial role here in shaping commitments to new and old practices, as they are vital to energise, direct and sustain behaviour over time (Barrett 2017).

WP4: Transforming Meat

Research Questions

  • How can we engage citizens in actively changing understandings of meat and meat-use?
  • What are new ways to eat, think about and feel meat? 

When food is culture, changing our food practices in view of climate change involves more than awareness raising and moral arguments: We need new ways of imagining and experiencing food. Artistic practices have long been hailed as crucial in societal transformations. As Dewey argued in Art as Experience, ‘The sum total of the effect of all reflective treatises on morals is insignificant in comparison with the influence of architecture, novel, drama, on life (Dewey 2005, 345). Artistic experiences allow for the stimulation of a deeper and more profound change process with longer-lasting outcomes, because they stimulate emotions, whereby multiple sensory modalities are active simultaneously, including bodily experiences (Darsø 2009). This is something which may allow for tacit and embodied knowledge to become explicit, and in turn to be scrutinized and questioned (Giæver 2019). Climate change is still a largely intangible phenomenon, yet increasingly central in how we find meaning in human practices and relation to the world: This flags an important role for the arts (Gabrys & Yusoff 2012). By actively remaking our food culture together, adapting to climate change can be much more than not eating meat: but a feast of new flavours.