Bad avocados, culinary standards, and knowable knowledge: Culturally appropriate rejections of meat reduction

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Cultural conventions are central to tackling unsustainable consumption.
In the Global North food conventions are increasingly contested due to
the political importance of climate change and the share of global
greenhouse gas emissions tied to animal food production and
consumption. Significant reductions in meat consumption are touted as
pathways to adaptation, but most consumers remain committed to
consuming meat-based meals and diets with meat. To explore how
consumers handle these issues in today’s cultural context, this article
examines culturally appropriate ways of rejecting meat reduction. The
theoretical framework is based on interactionism and accounts. The
empirical material is from focus group discussions with Danish
consumers. We find that in discussions about using plant-based meat,
norms of proper culinary conduct are held to be more pressing guides for
normative assessment than climate impacts. We also show that the
status and function of climate impact “knowledge” is complex and
ambiguous. A shared social knowledge of the climate impacts of meat
consumption appears to exist alongside “questionable knowledge” and
“lack of knowledge”, both of which are referred to excuse, justify, and
charge others in reasoning supporting continued meat consumption.
Knowledge of climate impacts is accepted when it fits cultural
conventions but appears less knowable if it poses challenges to
contemporary consumer culture. The article contributes insights into the
ways in which cultural conventions and complex knowledge negotiations
help to preserve unsustainable consumption.
TidsskriftJournal of Consumer Culture
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2 apr. 2024

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