Chapter 8: Of fake meat and an anxious Anthropocene: towards a cultural political economy of alternative proteins and their implications for future food systems
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This chapter considers the rise of alternative proteins (APs) and their current and potential impacts on food systems. Using the conceptual lens of cultural political economy, we analyse APs through two separate 'moments'. First, we explore the promissory narratives and resistances APs have encountered as they have been marketised and mainstreamed. Here we pay particular attention to the ways that the narratives of urgency, anxiety and crisis, plus the scale of livestock-related problems in the Anthropocene, have (re)authorised Big Food's role in delivering sustainable food systems. Our second moment is more speculative. Refracted through philosophical and geographical treatments of APs, we explore the ethical, material and spatial implications of cell-cultured meat and ask what is disrupted and what is maintained through this particular version of doing meat differently. We conclude with questions for future research on APs in the context of the changing contours of the food system.

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