Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Population Health Research Group
This paper responds to a range of popular materials circulating in the public sphere asserting a plant-based (PB) diet is of benefit to humans and a protection against many chronic diseases. Although directed at a lay audience, books such as The China Study (Campbell & Campbell) are based upon extensive academic research, and highlight multiple health, environmental and social advantages of PB diets over traditional western diets. Arguments advocating PB nutrition, however, generally struggle to achieve traction in the public sphere. Narratives around PB food choices, and difficulties in shifting mainstream eating patterns, reflect the cultural symbolism attached to food, and the significance of food as an economic commodity. Moreover, the ‘expert’ status of the medical establishment privileges medical interventions over preventative PB approaches. This paper applies Cultural Studies and Health Communications perspectives to investigate bottlenecks preventing the adoption of a PD diet by a wider cross-section of the population.