Academics, Our World UN


Damian Carrington, The Guardian (14.12.05)

The problem with eating meat is the same as the one with owning a car: it’s a social symbol. As people were not able to eat as much meat as they wanted to in the past, being able to afford it for almost every meal is a way of showing the world (or at least the neighbors) that our life standards have changed. It is important to tell people that they are killing the planet by eating so much beef, showing figures and studies, but the social factor is so important that it has to be tackled first.

It is really ironic, but the best way of having people consuming less meat is certainly having the richest of us stop doing it. It is the same with car ownership; as soon as “owning a car” is not considered as desirable by the richest (for example, Bill Gates could decide that cycling is the best transportation mean, but I don’t think that would happen…), then it becomes less and less attractive to lower social groups. It was studied by economists and sociologists, for example Keynes or Veblen. This phenomenon of imitating higher social groups’ consumption patterns is called “demonstration effect” (James Duesenberry). And it is currently causing over consumption, waists of resources and environment problems.

For the moment, macrobiotic meals and trendy mixed salads are considered as a weird hipster eat habit from some famous people. But maybe it would actually be a good thing if we were all eating like them (even though, I have to say that it sounds strange). Telling people how cows are a threat to the ozone layer, we should also think about sociological implications.


Listening to: 타블로 (Tablo) – 나쁘다 (feat. 진실)

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