Meat Futures: Socioeconomic Geographies of Livestock Production and Consumption

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sci


Environmental and health concerns are driving a trend towards meat-free diets in many OECD countries, with significant consequences for agriculture, food supply chains, rural landscapes and livelihoods. In lower and middle-income countries, livestock production and meat consumption are still on an upward trend and the sector plays a significant role in food security and broader economic development objectives. The shifting patterns of global demand and supply dynamics pose fundamental questions about the nature of regional specialisation based on comparative advantage and how animal husbandry and production is reconciled by increasingly binding local, national and global environmental constraints.
This project will navigate the contested rhetorical and technological spaces between production and consumption of livestock products and their substitutes, and will identify the likely future shape of animal agriculture in different global regions. The research will critically engage with the competing socio-cultural and environmental narratives around livestock, and investigate the notion of a just transition towards an "optimal" livestock future, juxtaposing scenarios of potential de industrialisation in the global North, with regional specialisation in regions of the South offering a comparative advantage in terms of productive capacities and consumption need. Analysis will include the environmental and social costs and benefits of livestock production and consumption with a view to conceptualising alternative definitions of optimality. This includes recent rhetoric on planetary boundaries and safe operating spaces for livestock production.
The project will investigate the role that plural values have to play in influencing meat identification, attitudes and consumption, and importantly identify cultural nuances. The project will take a mixed-methodological approach using surveys, interviews and focus groups. The project asks three research questions:
How do meat identification, attitudes and consumption differ in different cultural contexts?
How do different aspects of plural values (intrinsic, instrumental and relational) influence meat identification, attitudes and consumption?
How might the answers to these questions help conceptualise alternative definitions of optimality?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2429313 Studentship ES/P000681/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Kirsty Joanna Blair