Understanding the (Fake) Meat Debates: The Alternative Protein Ideological Circle

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The topic of "alternative proteins,"a field comprised of both plant-based animal product alternatives and the nascent field of cellular agriculture (eg, cultivated meat), has become a flashpoint for contemporary food system debate. This article introduces the "alternative protein ideological circle"as a framework for understanding the nature of this contestation, as well as the key stakeholder groups who animate the landscape. It argues that perspectives on alternative proteins coalesce around 2 primary ideological poles: (1) meat attachment or carnism, the extent to which people believe or do not believe that eating animals is a natural, normal, and necessary part of contemporary life; and (2) sociotechnical imaginaries, divided between techno-optimistic "wizards"and technoskeptical "prophets."From there, 4 key stakeholder groups emerge: (1) the "high-Tech vegans"(techno-optimists with low levels of carnism); (2) the "ecomodernists"(techno-optimists with high levels of carnism); (3) the "good foodies"(technoskeptics with low levels of carnism); and (4) the "carnivore traditionalists"(technoskeptics with high levels of carnism). The article offers illustrative examples of these groups, drawing from popular media and advocacy. It concludes with reflections on the implications of this framework for nutrition research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalNutrition Today
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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