Accepted paper:

The co-production of (fake) meat and masculinities


Martin Winter (Technische Universität Darmstadt)

Paper short abstract:

Veganism is on the rise. While meat is gendered masculine, the gendering of vegetarian meat alternatives is strongly contested. I will analyse how in processes of production and marketing (fake) meat, knowledge, gender and (gendered) bodies are co-produced.

Paper long abstract:

The interest in vegan and vegetarian foodstuffs, fake meat in particular, is still growing. One of the major factors for the growth can be seen in collaborations between vegetarian NGOs and traditional meat producers, for instance "ProVeg" and "Rügenwalder" in Germany. At the same time the traditional masculine connotation of meat is reinforced, while the more feminine gendering of vegan and vegetarian alternatives is contested by vegetarian NGOs, who try to promote veganism especially to men. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork at food-related trade fairs and qualitative interviews with actors in the field of food research and production, I will analyse processes of gendering meat and its alternatives. Therefor I build upon (feminist) STS and conceive foodstuffs as technologically manufactured and designed "biofacts". These relate in specific ways to knowledge and the eater's bodies: gender, bodies and biofactual foods are co-constructed in complex arrangements. I analyse how masculinities and different kinds of (fake) meat are simultaneously produced. Further, this analysis brings insights into the way different public, non-governmental and commercial players in this field interact. Preliminary results show that the gendering of food is transferred to the level of macromolecules and mainly protein gets a masculine gendering. Vegetarian NGOs are no longer opponents of the meat industry. Rather they play the role of mediators for designing and marketing meat alternatives. Further, they strategically de-feminize vegan foodstuffs and thus making them more attractive for either flexitarians or men who aim for an ideal, i.e. strong and muscular, body.

panel A25
Trouble swallowing? Food, technoscience and publics