Why do we have a love-hate relationship with meat?

When was the last time you ate meat? Now? How many days have passed? 10 years ago? Nothing at all? Have you ever fought with someone about eating meat, be it the environmental impact or the ethical issue of animal eating? Are you confused by the conflicting information floating around about the health effects of meat? Do you feel guilty about continuing to eat meat?

Meat is an ubiquitous food, consider the controversial carnivore diet, plant-based “meat” or lab-grown meat.

Aside from people from a vegan family or culture, many of us eat or have eaten meat. Even people who follow a plant -based diet can sometimes indulge in plant -based meat because they enjoy the familiar taste of the meat.

Marta Zaraska, science journalist, calls this tendency to give meat pride to our plates a meat obsession.

In fact, meat is one of the oldest consumer products, with archaeological excavations showing that the first humans began killing and slaughtering animals about 2.6 million years ago. Since then, meat has carved a place for itself in our family rituals, spiritual celebrations and gatherings. Meat unites us, but also carries its share of objections and contradictions.

How did meat become a point of contention? And why do we have a love-hate relationship with him?

As market researchers, we have recently studied the causes of conflicts and discovered that meat has been at the center of controversies related to morality, ecology, gender, class and health issues since XIV. .e century in the northern part of the world.

Meat at the heart of the gender divide

Despite the stereotype that meat is a traditional male food, the recent discovery of a female body with hunting tools in a 9,000-year-old burial site suggests that our assumptions about the gender of the hunters may be wrong.

It is true that meat is a product associated with gender culture, a division viewed in terms of its production and consumption.

Gender stereotypes about hunting and killing are so common that they shape women’s career aspirations, which are less well known in meat -based professions. Men themselves are subject to expectations because of their gender and have to eat meat to express their masculinity.

Just think of some TV movies that focus on eating meat, like Epic Meal Time and in their way of perpetuating the values ​​of hypermasculinity. This picture of men can help explain why plant-based diets are considered less masculine and why some men are reluctant to eat plant-based foods.

The YouTube account Epic Meal Time has set up a “20 pound meat lovers sushi roll”.

Meat as a symbol of power and wealth

Consumption of meat, in both quantity and quality, symbolically marks the inequality in society since the times of the Middle Ages. As Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat explains in her book Natural and moral history of foodthe nobles and elites ate better cuts of meat, more exotic meats that we don’t eat today (like swans)) and some animal parts (like eyes) that are considered gastronomic delicacies hangtud XVIe century.

In this regard, the working class consumed meat of poor quality, less varied and less frequent. Slaughterhouses and factory farming allow meat to be more readily available to the general population. It is no longer the amount of meat consumed that defines the social class, but its quality.

Recently, factory farming has generated strong reactions about the behavior and sustainability of meat production and its environmental implications.

Massive meat production can destroy natural habitats and damage biodiversity, in addition to representing a type of exploitation in which animals and workers are considered objects, with effects on the quality of life of rural areas.

A future where meat is less visible to everyone is a dream shared by animal advocates, governments and even the United Nations (which recommends a meat -free diet). But many believe this goal is unrealistic, due to our obsession with meat.

Re-invent the world without meat

Meat is a sign of class and gender segregation and has sparked scientific revolutions, but data shows that people are not willing to give up meat.

Although imitation meat is designed to look, taste and feel like real meat, scientists do not know if it can replace meat and solve our problems. The contradictions and contradictions that are deeply rooted in our cultures will continue to shape our contentious relationship with meat, the symbols it represents and the moral issues that surround it.

For this reason, we will continue to love and hate meat (and its substitutes). It is possible to imagine the future without meat, but is it possible to escape the cultural ingredients delivered by this food?

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