CfP POLLEN18: ​Political Ecologies of Meat

​CfP POLLEN18: Political Ecologies of Meat

Organizers: Kristian Bjørkdahl, Arve Hansen, Karen Victoria Lykke Syse

The consumption of meat and dairy products holds a central position in food practices in a wide countries and cultures. For many, meat and dairy products represent an important part of the culinary dimensions of the ‘good life’, and increased consumption is often associated with improved living standards.  Indeed, statistically speaking, increased consumption of animal products is closely associated with increasing affluence. At the same time, however, the livestock sector represents a core challenge to global environmental sustainability.  For example, livestock systems already emit up to 18 percent of total Greenhouse gases and use 25-32 percent of global fresh water (Herrero et al., 2015). 

While the environmental impacts of meat production, along with the ethical aspects of industrial livestock processes, have led to a certain, although still marginal, backlash against meat consumption in some rich countries, the consumption of animal products is increasing rapidly in other parts of the world. Until the early 1980s daily consumption of meat and dairy products was mainly an OECD privilege (Steinfeld et al. 2006). In the subsequent two decades, however, total annual meat supply in ‘developing countries’ tripled while annual per capita meat consumption doubled (from 14 kgs to 28 kgs). The upwards spiralling trend has continued and is expected to continue also in the coming decade (OECD/FAO 2016; Henchion et al., 2014).

While it is certainly possible to make livestock processes more efficient and more environmentally friendly (e.g. Kristensen et al., 2014; Herrero et al., 2015), current trends in meat consumption are unsustainable, and a further global-scale increase in consumption is thus deeply problematic. Meat production is also a highly inefficient way to provide food to a growing population (Weis, 2013).

This panel investigates the political ecologies of meat by asking questions such as: Why and how do meat production and consumption increase, and what are the most relevant actors to investigate for understanding these changes? What kind of meat consumption increases? How is meat consumption promoted? What kind of different meat cultures exist and (how) do they change? Are there examples of successful reductions of meat consumption? And what is a just distribution of meat consumption globally?

We invite papers focusing on these or other questions relevant for the political ecologies of meat production and/or consumption in different parts of the world.    

 Send abstracts (max 200 words) to Kristian Bjørkdahl (, Arve Hansen (, and Karen Victoria Lykke Syse ( by December 15


Henchion, M., McCarthy, M., Resconi, V.C., Troy, D., 2014. Meat consumption: Trends and quality matters. Meat Science 98 (3), 561-568.

Herrero, M., Wirsenius, S., Henderson, B., Rigolot, C., Thornton, P., Havlík, P., de Boer, I., Gerber, P.J., 2015. Livestock and the Environment: What Have We Learned in the Past Decade? Annual Review of Environment and Resources 40, 177-202.

Kristensen, L., Støier, S., Würtz, J., Hinrichsen, L., 2014. Trends in meat science and technology: The future looks bright, but the journey will be long. Meat Science 98 (3), 322-329.

OECD/FAO, 2016. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025. OECD Publishing, Paris.

Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M., de Haan, C., 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. FAO, Rome.

Weis, T., 2013a. The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. Zed Books, London.

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