Normality, Naturalness, Necessity, and Nutritiousness of the New Meat Alternatives

Normality, Naturalness, Necessity, and Nutritiousness of the New Meat Alternatives

Diana Bogueva (Curtin University, Australia) and Kurt Schmidinger (Vienna University, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7350-0.ch002


In the West, meat is acceptable, tasty, delicious, palatable, and enjoyable. It has a well-established position in the consumers' food habits shaping the taste of the affluent eating culture and accepted as normal, natural, necessary, and nutritious. Although recent scientific evidence recognizes that meat has a high negative environmental impact, there is still lack of attention on the fact that we live on a planet with limited resources which need to be preserved. Part of this is a transition to more sustainable consumption habits and diets. This chapter examines the social readiness and acceptability of new meat alternatives as normal, natural, necessary, and nutritious amongst Gen Y and Gen Z consumers. It concludes that a reduction in meat consumption should be an essential part of creating a more sustainable diet in light of the projected increase of the world population, expected human health benefits, and improved environmental wellbeing of the planet.
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In this day and age, consumption, and especially meat consumption, has moved beyond its primary utilitarian function of serving basic human needs. The culture of the wealthiest societies is imbued with the idea of excessive meat consumption as absolutely normal part for everyone’s equal opportunities to have abundant access to meat protein, often taken for granted and constantly fulfilling consumers’ voracious appetites. Over the past fifty years, global meat production and consumption have increased five to ten-fold and the trends are expected to rise by 2050 (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). In a Western diet type, the prevalent excessive, unsustainable meat eating is based on consumption levels from daily to at least 4–5 days a week (Bogueva, Marinova, & Raphaely, 2017). In a wealthy country like Australia, meat consumption has reached 116 kg per person a year (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). Such consumption levels are environmentally harmful and have major repercussions on several related global crises linked with water, climate, and energy (Steinfeld, Gerber, Wassenaar, Castel, Rosales & de Haan, 2006).

It is indeed indisputable that all serious environmental problems the world is facing today, including climate change, resource depletion, degradation of the planet’s ecosystems, biodiversity depletion, and pollution of air, water and soil, are human-made (Cook, Oreskes, Doran, Anderegg, Verheggen, Maibach, … Green, 2016; Raphaely & Marinova, 2016; Springmann, Mason-D’Croz, Robinson, Garnett, Godfray, Gollin, … Scarborough, 2016; Myers, Gaffikin, Golden, Ostfeld, Redford, Ricketts … Osofsky, 2013; Steinfeld, Gerber, Wassenaar, Castel, Rosales & de Haan, 2006) and connected with our consumption and production patterns. The Earth’s ecosystems cannot survive without urgent changes in human behaviour.

The environmental problems are further compounded with health issues caused by people’s voluntarily dietary choices of high animal protein intake. This leads to early mortality risk (Sarich, 2013), higher incidence of heart disease (Quintana Pacheco, Sookthai, Wittenbecher, Graf, Stübel, Johnson … Kühn, 2018), diabetes (Mari-Sanchis, Gea, Basterra-Gortari, Martinez-Gonzalez, Beunza, & Bes-Rastrollo, 2016; Bernard, Levin, & Trapp, 2014), cancer (Lippi, Mattiuzzi, & Cervellin, 2016), including colon cancer (Singh & Fraser, 1998; Giovannucci, Rimm, Stampfer, Colditz, Ascherio, & Willett, 1994), prostate cancer (Dagnelie, Schuurman, Goldbohm, & Van den Brandt, 2004; Giovannucci, Rimm, Colditz, Stampfer, Ascherio, Chut, & Willett, 1993; Kolonel, 1996), breast cancer (Carroll & Braden, 1985), and obesity (You & Henneberg, 2016). Future dietary change directions need to be identified to reduce the burden of diseases and predisposing factors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Natural: Derived from nature, not made or caused by humankind.

Normal: Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

New Meat Alternatives: A meat analogue, substitute, vegetarian meat, or vegan meat, a food product which replaces nutritionally animal meat and may or may not imitate meat qualities, such as taste, texture, flavor, and appearance.

Generation Z (Gen Z): (referred also as the Centennials or iGen) People born between 1996 and 2009 (although the end of this generation is not clearly defined); they have grown with social media and are considered independent and entrepreneurial.

Necessary: Required, compulsory, mandatory, inevitable.

Generation Y (Gen Y): (referred also as the Millennials) People born between 1977 and 1995; they have grown with technologies such as the internet, computers, and video games and are considered to be technologically savvy.

Nutritious: Efficient as food to provide essential nutrient; nourishing.

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