Meat in the Human Diet: A Biosocial Perspective

  • Frédéric LeroyEmail author
  • Stefaan De Smet


Despite its longstanding biosocial evolutionary background, the consumption of meat has nowadays become a controversial activity for a variety of reasons, being mostly related to anxieties about health, environmental impact, and animal welfare. The present chapter will outline the biosocial functions of meat within human communities, including the particularities of the contemporary state-of-affairs in postdomestic societies. Moreover, an overview will be given of the (historic) discourses on the role of meat in health and disease. The heterogeneity within human-meat interaction schemes, both with respect to meat production and utilization, suggests a tremendous amount of research potential related to the position of unconventional meat types in diets and culture. From a minoritarian position they may be useful in challenging given ideas and established concepts about meat, which are usually construed based on the dominant position of beef, pork, and chicken within Western countries. Unconventional meats may thus help us to reflect differently on human-meat interactions and to deal with future challenges that require innovative thinking.


Meat Nutrition Health Disease Culture Food studies 



The authors acknowledge financial support of the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, including the SRP7 and IOF342 projects, and in particular the Interdisciplinary Research Programs ‘Food quality, safety, and trust since 1950: societal controversy and biotechnological challenges’ (IRP2) and ‘Tradition and naturalness of animal products within a societal context of change’ (IRP11).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO), Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences, Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory for Animal Nutrition and Animal Product Quality (LANUPRO), Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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