Meat Myths and Marketing

Meat Myths and Marketing

Diana Bogueva (Curtin University, Australia) and Ian Phau (Curtin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9553-5.ch015
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Abstract

This chapter explores how marketing uses the creation and perpetuation of myths to reinforce demand for meat amongst mainstream consumers. It explores advertising misinformation including with regards the place of meat in our culture, its nutritional value, its association with affluence, masculinity and the benefits of small-scale production. The power of marketing is within the context of whether marketing has a role to play in decreasing rather than perpetuating meat-consumption.
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Myth 1: “We Were Meant To Eat Meat”

Hunting, domestication, killing animals, socialising and eating meat in many forms have been important components of human progress (Smil, 2002; Pobiner cited in Kasper, 2013) including our intellectual and physical growth. Scientific evidence suggests that meat consumption may have contributed to our evolutionary heritage and is linked to key characteristics that have made us human mammals with larger brains, smaller guts and developed language (Smil, 2013b; Choi, 2012; Dominguez-Rodrigo et al., 2012). Smil (2013a, n.p.) explains: “Larger brains benefited from consuming high-quality proteins in meat-containing diets, and, in turn, hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence… and socializing”. The ability to secure meat played a major role in human evolution. With the domestication of livestock, hunting was gradually replaced by the planned slaughter of livestock (Burket, 1983). Cooking allowed humans to develop more sophisticated tastes for meat. Nowadays 70 billion animals are slaughtered each year to be consumed by 7 billion humans.

In the contemporary industrialised world we have a very simple reason to eat meat – because this is what we’ve been taught to do. As Joy explains: “We do not need meat to survive or even to be healthy... We eat animals simply because it is what we have always done, and because we like the way they taste” (Joy, 2011, p. 29).

The large numbers of animals raised to support these dietary habits are putting enormous stress on the environmental limits of the planet and changing its ecological balance. Researchers are increasingly calling for reduction of meat consumption, promotion of more rational meat eating (Smil, 2013a, 2013b) and flexitarian diets (Raphaely & Marinova, 2014; Verain, Dagevos & Antonides, 2015). This is not a simple task as, in addition to habit and socialisation, marketers use the interrelatedness of human evolution with eating animals to further lure and guide consumers in the direction of high meat intake.

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