Introduction: Meat Critique
The recent highlighting of meat’s environmental costs has added acute urgency to longstanding moral and political contestations around animal agriculture and the meat economy. This introductory essay sets out the volume’s key premise that the practices of our contemporary meat regime are shaped as much by cultural and imaginative factors as by ecological debate, political deliberation and moral reasoning. Specifically, drawing on work by Melanie Joy, Annie Potts and Nick Fiddes, we explore the value of literary-critical perspectives as a complement to the more familiar ethical and political analyses. We begin by offering an historical overview of meat culture as it has developed in the last century in Europe and North America before outlining the ways in which a post-anthropocentric literary practice is emerging in relation to this context. This survey allows us to articulate the volume’s contribution to work in animal studies and the more recent field of vegan studies, as formulated by Laura Wright and others.
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