Green, healthy and eat meat? : a mixed methods investigation into how meat is used and viewed by meat-eaters in Australia

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Meat is a central feature in the diets of many Australians. It is highly desired and can make an important, though not essential, contribution to nutritional intake. While a small to moderate intake of meat is recommended to meet nutritional requirements, consuming meat in excess is related to health risks. In addition, the production of meat has a significant environmental impact, most noticeably via greenhouse gas emissions. This impact is further exacerbated when meat is wasted (discarded without being eaten). There are calls to reduce global meat consumption. However, investigation of meat consumption in the Australian context is limited. Consequently, a health and sustainability lens was used to explore the way meat is used and viewed by meat-eaters. A mixed methods approach using weighed food records, interviews, a survey and recipe audit was involved. This thesis provides evidence that some Australians waste meat by over-consumption and discard. Weighed food records from 29 adults indicated that typical meat consumption for females was between 802 g/week (Q1) and 1408 g/week (Q3). Typical intake for males was between 1022 g/week (Q1) and 1394 g/week (Q3). Just under four-fifths of males (79%,n=11) and approximately half of females (53%,n=8) consumed more than the recommend 455 grams of red meat per week (NHMRC 2013a). A survey of approximately 600 respondents indicated male respondents typically selected 150-200 gram portions of cooked steak and females 100-150 gram portions. Approximately, half the households in Phase One of this study were identified as discarders, throwing out between 200-1875 grams of meat per household in a one-week period. Participants in this investigation were unaware and/or unconcerned about the environmental credentials of meat and the health risks associated with excess consumption. Many were observed to be ‘happily disconnected’ from the way meat is produced in Australia and to have ‘blind trust’ in Australian meat production. Meat was identified as a highly desired food and there was resistance to modifying meat consumption. However, there was some indication that participants could reduce the frequency of meat consumption and make small (~50 gram) reductions to portion sizes. In order to move towards more healthy and sustainable meat consumption, there is a need to improve awareness of the way meat is produced, improve the composition and communication of dietary guidelines for meat, and improve aspects of food literacy.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCatherine Itsiopoulos (Supervisor), David Pearson (Supervisor) & Joanna Henryks (Supervisor)

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