Who has a beef with reducing red and processed meat consumption? A media framing analysis
journal contributionposted on 2022-03-01, 00:00 authored by Kate SievertKate Sievert, Mark LawrenceMark Lawrence, C Parker, Cherie Ann Russell, Phillip BakerPhillip Baker
AbstractObjective:Diets high in red and processed meat (RPM) contribute substantially to environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and the global burden of chronic disease. High-profile reports have called for significant global RPM reduction, especially in high-income settings. Despite this, policy attention and political priority for the issue are low.Design:The study used a theoretically guided framing analysis to identify frames used by various interest groups in relation to reducing RPM in online news media articles published in the months around the release of four high-profile reports by authoritative organisations that included a focus on the impacts of high RPM production and/or consumption.Setting:Four major RPM producing and consuming countries – USA, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.Participants:None.Results:Hundred and fifty news media articles were included. Articles reported the views of academics, policymakers, industry representatives and the article authors themselves. RPM reduction was remarkably polarising. Industry frequently framed RPM reduction as part of a ‘Vegan Agenda’ or as advocated by an elite minority. Reducing RPM was also depicted as an infringement on personal choice and traditional values. Many interest groups attempted to discredit the reports by citing a lack of consensus on the evidence, or that only certain forms of farming and processing were harmful. Academics and nutrition experts were more likely to be cited in articles that were aligned with the findings of the reports.Conclusions:The polarisation of RPM reduction has led to a binary conflict between pro- and anti-meat reduction actors. This division may diminish the extent to which political leaders will prioritise this in policy agendas. Using nuanced and context-dependent messaging could ensure the narratives around meat are less conflicting and more effective in addressing health and environmental harms associated with RPM.