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Welfare Washing: Disseminating Disinformation in Meat Marketing

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Kristian Bjørkdahl Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo Oslo Norway

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Karen Victoria Lykke Syse Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo Oslo Norway

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Abstract

In this article, our starting point is that people who are plagued by the so-called meat paradox must find ways of making meat consumption safe from the realities of meat production. They do this by way of various mechanisms of denial, which obfuscate contemporary industrial meat production. We focus on how advertisements become one notable vehicle of such denial, and select three examples for close reading. Focusing on the rhetorical techniques employed in three Norwegian ads for meat and how they mediate meat production to consumers, we argue that these ads all present an image of meat producers as progressive and caring proponents of animal welfare. This leads us to suggest that they exemplify a variant of greenwashing that we dub “welfare washing”—the main message of which is to keep calm and carry on consuming meat.

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