To eat or not to eat meat: How vegetarian dietary choices influence our social lives
Rowman and Littefield
School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Arts and Humanities
Increasingly, people are shifting to vegetarian, plant-based, or vegan diets. This shift is having profound effects on our social interactions, and this is the focus of this book. Becoming a vegetarian or vegan involves more than just changing your diet. It can change how you socially and emotionally connect with family, friends and the broader community, shape your outlook on life, and open up new worlds and contacts. It can also lead to uncomfortable situations, if dietary choices involving a rejection of meat are read by others as an ethical and moral judgement on mainstream dietary choices. This book adopts an innovative narrative approach, and draws on stories across the globe to consider how the food choices we make in our everyday lives can lead to complex, and sometimes life changing, social consequences. The narratives cover a range of topics, including the moral reasons behind some individuals’ decision to change their diets, the religious or ecological considerations, and the potential health and social ramifications. To date, the social consequences of selecting a plant-based diet have been sorely overlooked in favour of texts that have documented the benefits of such diets, and usually focus on health, animal welfare and/or environmental issues, with the aim of persuading readers to give up meat, and change to a ‘healthy’ and/or ‘sustainable’ diet. Cultural studies texts considering vegetarianism or veganism have typically targeted academic audiences with analyses of how identity is constructed through food and dietary choices. In contrast, this book offers a unique window onto how our social lives are implicated in our food choices, and is critical in understanding the importance of diet as embedded in complex social processes.