Publication details [#19627489]

Broad, Garret M. 2020. Making Meat, Better: The Metaphors of Plant-Based and Cell-Based Meat Innovation. Environmental Communication 14 (7) : 919–932.
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A variety of advocates argue that industrialized animal food production creates major problems related to the global food supply, climate change, animal suffering, and diet-related public health maladies. The alternative protein sector – encompassing both the nascent cell-based meat industry (also known as cultured, lab-grown, clean, cultivated, or in vitro meat) and the long-standing but evolving enterprise of plant-based meat production – has emerged in response. With a focus on the reality-defining power of metaphors, this article draws from a mixed set of qualitative materials to investigate the perspectives of alternative protein advocates, identifying two dominant conceptual metaphors that permeate their discourse. First, the metaphor that “meat is made” aims to transform the concept of meat itself, such that it is decoupled from its long-standing connection to animal farming and is understood instead as a set of tastes and textures that can be reconstructed through food science and biotechnology. Second, the metaphor of “the market” for alternative meats situates innovation, capital investment, and insights from behavioral economics and marketing as the primary agents for creating a “post-animal bioeconomy.” At the same time as these metaphors highlight particular aspects of the enterprise, they also serve to downplay a set of public concerns, including those related to the sector’s overall public health, cultural, economic, and ecological impacts. At a moment when alternative meats are being granted increased public attention, understanding the metaphors that characterize the industry offers environmental communication scholars the opportunity to examine its promise and limitations.