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From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette: Popularizing Veganism in France with Food Blogs



Once disparaged, ridiculed, or just plain ignored by the general public, vegans are a fast-growing group in French society. Until quite recently, meatless products could be found only at organic shops and were viewed by the general public as something for macrobiotic hippies who adore flavorless tofu. But today, these products represent a market that is expanding at an impressive pace. Although most restaurant owners are still dragging their feet when it comes to adding vegan or even vegetarian options to their menus and school cafeterias are still required by law to include animal protein in every dish they serve, it cannot be denied that veganism has arrived in France. The most-watched evening news shows regularly feature segments on the so-called “veggie trend,” vegan restaurants seem to be popping up like mushrooms all over Paris, food manufacturers are experimenting with vegetarian meat alternatives, and no fewer than 15 French-language cookbooks with the word “vegan” in their title appeared in the year following the first one in April 2014. In a country whose national cuisine has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage, and where a traditional dish is defined first and foremost by the type of meat used, this shift has been far from easy.
©  e Editor(s) (if applicable) and  e Author(s) 2016
J. Castricano, R.R. Simonsen (eds.), Critical Perspectives on Veganism,
e Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series,
From Seitan Bourguignon toTofu
Blanquette: Popularizing Veganism
inFrance withFood Blogs
Ophélie Véron
Once disparaged, ridiculed, or just plain ignored by the general public,
vegans are a fast-growing group in French society. Until quite recently,
meatless products could be found only at organic shops and were viewed
by the general public as something for macrobiotic hippies who adore
avorless tofu. But today, these products represent a market that is
expanding at an impressive pace. Although most restaurant owners are
still dragging their feet when it comes to adding vegan or even vegetar-
ian options to their menus and school cafeterias are still required by law
to include animal protein in every dish they serve, it cannot be denied
that veganism has arrived in France.  e most-watched evening news
shows regularly feature segments on the so-called “veggie trend,” vegan
restaurants seem to be popping up like mushrooms all over Paris, food
manufacturers are experimenting with vegetarian meat alternatives, and
no fewer than 15 French-language cookbooks with the word “vegan” in
O . V é r o n ( )
University College London , London , UK
their title appeared in the year following the  rst one in April 2014. In
a country whose national cuisine has been listed as a UNESCO world
heritage, and where a traditional dish is de ned  rst and foremost by the
type of meat used, this shift has been far from easy.
In this chapter, I will be analyzing the rise of veganism in a society
that is still marked by the prevalence of what Melanie Joy has termed
1 in its culture, public institutions, and daily practices. I will
focus in particular on the role vegan food blogs play in these changes
in societal perception and behavior.  e rst French blogs of this kind
appeared in 2006–2007, and today there are more than 50. With their
recipes and articles, these bloggers work to educate their readers, pro-
mote vegan cuisine, and facilitate a transition to an animal-free diet for
as many people as possible. I will argue that by revisiting traditional
dishes, highlighting the culinary delights o ered by vegan cuisine, and
presenting it as a healthy and delicious alternative to meat-based food,
these blogs have increased awareness of veganism among people outside
their usual readership, and have thus helped expand acceptance of veg-
anism in French society. Although some fear that this popularity could
weaken the radical impetus of veganism as a politics, I will highlight
the e ects it has had on the growing awareness of issues related to the
welfare and rights of animals.
I will  rst examine how blogs, and particularly food blogs, are involved
in community-building and the formation of subcultures. Next, I will
look at the growth of vegan food blogs in France. I will then demonstrate
that although these blogs’ initial main audience was the existing vegan
community, they later expanded beyond this small circle, reaching new
audiences, and thus helping popularize veganism in French society and,
arguably, beyond. Finally, I will measure the role of these blogs against
the increase in general awareness of animal ethics issues. While evaluating
the possible risks of awareness-raising e orts centered more on culinary
enjoyment than issues of justice and animal rights, I will conclude by pre-
senting the relatively positive impact these blogs have had on the general
public’s growing interest in the animal cause.
is paper is based on research related to vegan food blogging, in
which I participated  rst as a blogger and activist, and later as a researcher,
combining my two identities as I became increasingly involved in the
288 O. Véron
movement. Drawing upon cyber-ethnography methods, interviews with
vegan food bloggers, and a survey of their readers, whom I approached
via social networks and my own blog, I provide examples of how ani-
mal-free diets and lifestyles are becoming normalized in French society.
Finally, I suggest that vegan blogs can provide insight into new ways of
viewing and practicing veganism in the twenty- rst century.
Food Blogging Communities andSubcultures
Although a certain number of researchers have examined issues of food and
2 ,
3 ,
4 ,
5 (Belasco, 2008; Parasecoli 2008; Brun and Jacobs, 2006; Pence
2002; Meigs, 1998) and the role of blogs in society,
6 few sociological studies
have focused on food blogs, much less vegan food blogs. Recipe-sharing is,
however, a long-standing practice. Sharing recipes and food-related infor-
mation is a way of expressing one’s “experiences, preferences, observations,
and desires.
7 On a blog, this sharing is public and reaches a wider audience,
as is the case with books and magazines, and thus becomes a way of re ect-
ing a culture and de ning a community, thus “inscribing the self with a
sense of place, belonging and achievement.
8 (Gallegos 2005) Because blogs
allow for interaction going beyond the individual or family level, they often
lead to the creation of a community founded on a sense of shared identity.
(Ferguson 2012) O ering a more dynamic relationship than cookbooks,
blogs allow people to come into contact regardless of the physical distance
that may separate them.
10 (Lofgren 2013)  ese opportunities for sharing
and discussion, which break with traditional notions of passive media spec-
11 (Jenkins 2008:3) make these blogs a vector for participatory
culture. Many bloggers o er advice to their readers who, in return, com-
ment, ask questions, and share their personal experiences, thus allowing
for the emergence of a type of dynamic and collective expertise.
A virtual community created in this way can be considered a sub-
culture. According to Nancy Baym (2010), these groups are composed
of “like- minded individuals” and can be compared to “semi-organized
grassroots social movements.” Blogs may thus share many features with
non-virtual groups, in which individuals “develop identities through
performances that build distinctive styles.
12 Je Bishop and Paul Hoggett
note that subcultures are a key vector through which “dominant values
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 289
are transmitted, resisted, or negotiated and new sets of values, which may
take as their point of origin a di erent mode of production and social
organization, emerge”.
13 Food blogs can therefore be a way for bloggers
and their readers to question and challenge certain food-related norms,
habits, or dominant representations.  e very nature of the social net-
works on which they depend sometimes lends them an in uence extend-
ing beyond just the food blogosphere.
In the next section, I will explore the aspects of French vegan food blogs
that relate to subculture, identity, and community, and will examine their
potential impact on French society and its dominant representations—in
particular, as they are related to speciesist and carnist ideologies.
Building aVegan Subculture Community
French vegan food blogs appeared around the same time than the gen-
eral French food blogosphere emerged. Many in the general public
associated animal-rights activists with the lightning-raid tactics of the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and thought of people following a vegan
diet as ascetics who belong to cults and live almost exclusively on soy
burgers and sprouts.
15 e only vegan recipes available were found on
black-and-white brochures distributed at stands run by a handful of
animal- protection associations, and many people followed a vegan diet
on their own without ever meeting any other vegans or activists. Vegan
food blogs thus played a special role in bringing people together and
strengthening the community. Drawing on content analysis, participant
observation, interviews with 16 bloggers, and a survey of 276 vegan food
blog readers, I show how this vegan blogosphere has helped build and
develop the identity of the French vegan community.
According to Nancy Baym (2010), a community, virtual or not, is
based on a certain number of characteristics including a sense of belong-
ing and space; shared/social identities, resources and practice; sociability
and interpersonal relationships; information and support.
16 e notions
of belonging and shared identity can be seen in most of the names chosen
for French vegan blogs—a large number of them include a direct reference
290 O. Véron
to their vegan identity: VG-Zone, Végébon, Vegans eld, Enfant Végé, 100 %
Végétal, Ma Cuisine Végétalienne , etc.  e idea of providing support and
information is also clear in the mission statements of many of these blogs.
One of the  rst French vegan blogs to appear was VG-Zone , which is
“ rst and foremost designed to make daily life easier for Parisian vegans,
but [is] also for anyone passing through our lovely capital city.
17 is is
not a blog that aims to “explain to newbies what strict vegan and ovo-
lacto-vegetarian diets are” but rather “an urban survival guide for grocery
shopping,” suggesting places to dine out “without the risk of  nding a
bone in your food” and “making a quick meal in your tiny kitchen at
home.”  e blog’s goal of o ering its readers assistance is clearly stated:
“Dont panic! We’re here to help!”
18 e bloggers behind VG-Zone , Laura
and Sébastien, pointed out that at the time they created their blog, this
type of information “didnt exist” and that “the few [vegan blogs] that
were around didnt do a great job of promoting veganism.
19 e idea of
a community founded on a common practice, shared resources, and a
network of mutual support is clearly echoed in the comments left by their
very  rst readers. One of them wrote, “Your site is really great! Both for
the recipes and the wealth of information about eating well as a vegan …
It’s so nice to  nally  nd a good source like this one in the chaos of the
blogosphere. Many thanks to both of you for everything you’re doing for
the veg community!”
20 e blog has thus become a space for sociability
and interpersonal relationships, since readers share their own practices
and ask for advice.  e authors often reply to these comments, but like
on a forum, other readers also add their thoughts.
e results of my survey of readers of vegan blogs reveal similar moti-
vations. Several respondents stated that they began reading this kind of
blog after going vegetarian or vegan, with a view to “ nding recipes and
tips to make things easier,” “diversifying [their] diet and getting guid-
ance,” “having support for the transition” or seeing “that this lifestyle
was really possible.” In places where veganism is less common, blogs are
often the only—or at least the  rst—direct contact people have with
others who share their values. One survey respondent said that for her,
these blogs allowed her to “see that [she] wasn’t the only one who had
these beliefs.” Another wrote that she was “at a loss as far as what to eat”
and contacted some bloggers who “very kindly mentored [her] through
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 291
the  rst steps.” A desire to escape from a form of social isolation by
meeting other vegans can be seen in the experience of another reader, for
whom the blogs were like “a breath of fresh air” and provided “support
and education in terms of cooking and nutrition when everyone else you
know swears by a meat-based diet and knows nothing about other ways
of eating.” Some respondents stated that the blogs made them feel “reas-
sured about [their] choices” and “less alone.” Vegan food blogs therefore
seem to have played a major role in terms of identity- and commu-
nity-building at a time when veganism was not well known or widely
accepted in French society.
ese blogs are also a core part of a subculture that de es dominant
ideological norms. By presenting alternative lifestyles and consumer
models that raise questions about the traditional French culinary land-
scape, bloggers regularly challenge the speciesism and carnism that are
prevalent in French society. In this sense, their actions can be compared
to what Michel de Certeau (
1984 ) called “cultural poaching.
21 Using
digital tools, bloggers are like “poachers” who, slipping through breaches
in the dominant culinary landscape, redesign their daily eating habits
and inspire their readers to make changes of their own. Revisiting tra-
ditional recipes to create egg-free crêpes, seitan bourguignon, and tofu
blanquette recall the détournement tactics of the Situationists, o ering
individuals the opportunity to question a dominant systems rules and
to reappropriate its existing codes.  is can be an enjoyable challenge,
o ering the satisfaction of creating something new as well as a treat for
the taste buds, and furthermore shows that anyone can reappropriate and
revisit the great classics of French cuisine. One of the bloggers interviewed
described vegan cuisine as “fun and creative” and said that it provides a
chance to “question the merits of traditional meat-based cuisine.”
22 e
name of one of these blogs, Pigut ,
23 an acronym standing for Petites Idées
pour Grandes Utopies (Small Ideas for Big Utopias), testi es to this tacti-
cal aspect, since its author, who goes by the name Melle Pigut, shows
that with relatively few resources—an “old computer,” a “trusty cam-
era” and “a couple of reliable cooking utensils”—it is possible to create
“big utopias … day after day, together with you and our small ideas.”
e recipes posted by these bloggers represent transgressions against the
traditional paradigm, ways of rejecting the inevitability of consuming
292 O. Véron
animal products, creating di erent cultural references and devising a new
system built on alternatives to the dominant practices. Vegan food blogs
help strengthen and develop the vegan subculture and have also popular-
ized it outside its community of origin.
Vegan Blogs: Inspiring Behavioral andSocietal
Some vegan blogs make no secret of their e orts to reach out to those
outside their circle of supporters and to help veganism become better
known in French society. Here, I will examine the two main strategies
blogs use to help popularize the vegan diet: updating the image of vegan-
ism in France and putting this way of eating within everyones reach.
To change the way veganism is perceived, it is essential to do away
with certain misconceptions—namely, that vegans are marginal members
of society at best, dangerous extremists at worst; that they are usually
pale and nutritionally de cient; that they follow a bland, restrictive, and
monotonous diet.  e idea, in one blogger’s words, is to show that “veg-
ans [are] not daisy-smoking hippies.
25 To this end, many bloggers focus
on how diverse, re ned, and delicious vegan food can be.  e blog 100 %
Végétal makes this clear right away in its mission statement:
Here, raw food,  axseed and coconut oil rub shoulders with burgers, nug-
gets and even a vegan version of  sh and chips. In the holiday season, there
are recipes such as chestnut-stu ed seitan roast, hazelnut roulades and even
a pâté inspired by foie gras. When summer comes around, there are color-
ful homemade ice creams packed with fruit and cakes that may skip the
eggs but certainly dont compromise on  avor. Basically, you won’t  nd any
deprivation in this kind of cuisine. It’s more ethical, eco-friendly and
healthy, more in tune with the seasons, with even more di erent  avors
and new combinations that you’ll want to experience ASAP.
As an example of this diversity, the blog Végébon
27 regularly features pho-
tos of meals made at home, ordered at restaurants, or taken to work in a
lunch box, while the blog Au Vert avec Lili
28 o ers no fewer than 26 types
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 293
of recipes ranging from salads, crudités, and wraps to quiches, brioches,
and mu ns. According to Gaëlle, the blogger behind Better than Butter ,
the idea is to “show people it’s possible to skip meat and still eat a variety
of delicious and nutritionally balanced dishes.
To debunk the misconceptions, it is essential to show that vegan cui-
sine can be delicious and elegant. As Laura and Sébastien see it, vegans
“have unfortunately inherited the image of the 1970s macrobiotic move-
ment: ascetic, restrictive and unglamorous.
31 eir blog o ers elegant
dishes and desserts on par with the creations of top chefs, underscoring
how important culinary excellence and visual appeal are when it comes
to vegan cuisine. For this reason, vegan bloggers tend to take a great deal
of care with food styling and photography. Many of them have galleries
of their culinary creations, and some even work as professional photog-
raphers. Special attention is also paid to blog design, since, as Gaëlle put
it, “attractive food blogs are appealing and show the dishes in their best
light, which can help get omnivores interested.
Putting veganism within everyone’s reach is the second goal of vegan
food blogs.  is strategy is founded upon a pragmatic approach aimed
at making life easier for people by o ering simple, everyday recipes.
Since vegan cuisine is often burdened by a reputation for being com-
plex, requiring exotic ingredients found only at organic food stores,
the idea here is to make veganism accessible to everyone. Sophie, the
author of Enfant Végé , said that she feels one of the best ways to pro-
mote veganism is to “show that being vegan today is EASY!”
33 e
blogger of L’Aventure Lavable
34 said that “low-cost recipes are an ini-
tial entry point” that can win people over. She therefore tries to o er
budget-friendly recipes so that readers will see that animal issues do
not have to “take a back seat” if they ever experience “ nancial di -
35 Sandrine of Végébon summarizes the general idea as follows:
“veganism can be for anyone.”
ese strategies have clearly a ected the readers of these blogs.
According to the results of my survey, although 38 % of the readers
were omnivores before discovering these blogs, only 6 % of them still
are now. And while 9 % of them were already vegan, 37.5 % of the
readership now identi es this way. Among the blog followers, 72 %
read only French- language vegan food blogs.  is diminishes the
294 O. Véron
in uence other types of blogs, particularly English-language ones,
may have on their changes in eating habits. Several respondents men-
tioned the role French blogs played in their discovery of veganism:
“My children have food allergies. I was looking for new recipes so I
could make a greater variety of dishes.  at’s how I stumbled upon a
few vegetarian and vegan blogs, which helped me learn about another
way of living and also inspired me to explore a new path myself and
become vegan.” Others spoke of the blogs making something “click”
inside them. One person said that the blogs opened the way to “dis-
covering another world” and “taking a new look at [his or her] lifestyle,
adopting more critical thinking and realizing that cooking vegetarian
or vegan isn’t as hard as all that.” Another indicated that the blogs
allowed her to “take the plunge” while yet another said, “Happening
upon a vegan food blog by chance is what led to my going vegan. I
was wondering, ‘why are there vegans?’ and I looked it up. And I went
vegan too.” Several respondents named one or more blogs that directly
inspired their decision: “I went vegan because of the blog Au Vert avec
Lili .” Others stressed that if they had not learned about vegan cook-
ing through these blogs, they might never have brought their actions
into line with their beliefs: “If I hadn’t discovered that you can eat
great food without milk, eggs or honey, I would never have taken the
leap,” and “At the beginning, veganism seemed extreme. Vegan blogs
… introduced me to vegan cuisine, and soon enough my transition to
veganism had been made, almost without my thinking about it!”
is last aspect is particularly important, since it suggests that infor-
mation alone (about the conditions of farm animals or the impact of
animal agriculture on the environment) is not enough to trigger changes
in beliefs. Here, it seems that preferences (habits, emotions, desires,
etc.) can play a central role in accepting and processing information.
is is con rmed by one blog reader’s comment: “When I wasnt yet
ready to consider veganism, I avoided information on animal ethics …
Once I realized that vegan food was great, I became more receptive to
the ethical part and began learning as much as possible so that I could
make my choices with full knowledge of the facts!”  is phenomenon
demonstrates the need to take the emotional rationalities of individuals
into account and to “prepare” them for the information by working on
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 295
preferences with a view to breaking down the psychological barriers and
the cognitive dissonance (Festinger
1957 ; Gibert 2015 ) that lead to atti-
tudes of resistance to information and change. It seems here that vegan
bloggers pay particular attention to these cognitive biases not only by
o ering content centered on information, but by taking into account
the emotions, beliefs, desires, or habits that may lead individuals to
develop resistance mechanisms.
In just a few years, it seems that the French food culture landscape has
changed quite a bit and that vegan cooking blogs have played a major
role in this evolution. Many are the bloggers who, after their blogs proved
successful, have been asked by publishers to write vegan cookbooks (as
was the case for Marie Laforêt of the blog 100 % Végétal , who in April
2014 published Frances  rst openly vegan cookbook)
37 or have gone
on to professionalize their involvement in the culinary world by o er-
ing cooking classes or online coaching. Laura and Sébastien said that
between the time when their blog was just getting started and today, the
image of veganism in French society has improved so much that “it’s
like night and day.”
38 For Sophie, the change “in the media [is] obvi-
ous,” while Gaëlle considers that veganism “is becoming more and more
accessible … and ‘scaring’ people less.
39 ,
40 Almost all of them agree that
this change in the French cultural landscape is a positive one. Around
42 % of respondents felt that blogs have an “enormous” impact in terms
of popularizing veganism, and 38.5 % said that they play a “large” role.
One reader said that “the many vegan blogs that exist today have made
veganism synonymous with modernity, youth, energy and gourmet cui-
sine, in my opinion.  ey have crushed the old stereotypes of a meatless,
animal-product-free meal being ‘not a real meal,’ ‘ avorless,’ ‘not  lling,’
‘boring’ or ‘outdated.’” While the concept of veganism seems foreign to
the majority of the French population, the term is, according to a reader,
“beginning to enter the vocabulary of the average person, along with
certain information.
e impact vegan food blogs have had on the French culinary land-
scape is major. Yet the growing popularity of veganism gives rise to
certain questions: by focusing more on taste than on animal ethics, do
we not run the risk of detracting attention from the movement’s politi-
cal side? It is this question that I will address and attempt to answer in
the following section.
296 O. Véron
French Vegan Blogs andthe“Veganist”
Several voices have recently been raised in the French anti-speciesist and
equalitarian community against what they call the “vegetarianist” or “veg-
anist” strategy of the animal-rights movements. According to Pierre Sigler
(2014), this type of strategy is based on the following ideas: observing a
vegan diet is the biggest thing we can do to help the animals; the best way
to weaken the meat industry is to increase the number of vegetarians and
vegans; trying to convince others to become vegetarians or vegans is the
most e ective way to increase the number of vegetarians or vegans.
41 In
the view of Anushavan Sarukhanyan (2013), this conversion strategy is
ine ective because it makes the animal issue a question of personal choice
and not of justice—two aspects he seems to consider as mutually exclusive
and which make him demand, in a provocative manner, “the abolition of
42 Furthermore, as he sees it, the use of arguments other than
ethical, focusing either on health or on the environment, is immoral and
tends to convey an implicitly speciesist message. For Bonnardel,
43 we must
strive to change society, not individuals—the promotion of vegetarianism
and veganism “is so important that it overshadows political demands.
Perhaps more than any other form of activism, vegan food blogs
embody this veganist strategy. While animal ethics is a major factor in
their food choices, a certain number of bloggers never address this topic
on their blogs. One of them admitted that she prefers to “inspire people to
eat plant-based food … rather than openly engaging in activism.
44 Laura
and Sébastien said that they aim “to never engage in any proselytism” and
are “careful not to talk about the various reasons for which someone may
want to adopt a strictly plant-based diet.
45 Marie Laforêt acknowledged
that “promoting a vegan diet for health or environmental reasons while
sweeping the ethics argument under the rug seems … problematic from
a strategic point of view.”
46 According to another blogger, “in a perfect
world, we would center everything on ethics.” She compared it to the
abolition of slavery: “it would be ridiculous to say, ‘Stop buying black
slaves—it’s bad for the environment’ or ‘Buying too many black slaves is
bad for your budget!’”
47 Melle Pigut felt that the use of arguments other
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 297
than ethics can be “dangerous” if presented on their own.
48 For Sophie,
however, these other arguments must be used, “because they are also pos-
itive for the animals, and if people are already eating less meat for other
reasons, they’ll be more likely to listen to the ethical arguments without
taking o ense. But ethics must be kept at the forefront!”
Yet although 78 % of the blog readers surveyed felt that vegan blogs
have played a “fairly important,” “important,” or “major” role in their
food choices, this  gure fell to 59 % when it came to the role blogs have
played in their awareness of animal ethics, and the percentage of those
who said this role was not very signi cant rose from 16 % to 28.5 %.
Similarly, while 42 % of them considered that the blogs made an “enor-
mous” contribution to popularizing veganism in society, and 38.5 %
thought they had a “large” impact, these  gures declined to 16 % and
31 %, respectively, when it came to the role they play in the general pub-
lic’s awareness of animal ethics.  e percentage of those saying that the
blogs help “a little” rose from 14 % to 38 %, while the “not at all” answers
increased from 3.5 % to 11.5 %. One reader lamented that “the blogs …
too often shy away from justice issues,” adding: “I  nd it a shame that
many of them focus on nutrition and the environment, which conveys
the erroneous message that we’re vegan for our health or the climate. I’m
not against the idea of addressing these issues—they’re important—but I
would like to see it said more often that we are vegan  rst and foremost
for reasons of justice.” Another respondent worried about a trend that
re ects the perception of veganism in society: “Most people that I meet
ask me  rst if I’m vegan for my health, and not if it’s for the animals. Few
people truly realize that there is a dead animal on their plate when they
eat meat, which for me is problem number one.
However, more respondents seem to condemn the “green & healthy
trend, which is to say a certain tendency throughout the blogosphere
to focus on health and nutrition and to make a lot of fuss over green
smoothies and “detoxing” salads. Gaëlle is not happy about “this
‘healthy eating’ fad in which veganism is thought of as a ‘weight-loss
diet’ and no mention is even made of the ethical aspects.
50 Melle Pigut
said that this can “introduce more people to veganism” but that “it’s a
double- edged sword because the goals are not the same and the mes-
sage gets obscured.
51 Marie Laforêt commented that “it isnt possible to
298 O. Véron
e ectively ght animal exploitation by using arguments or campaigns
that reproduce forms of oppression or discrimination,” such as fat-
52 Many bloggers and blog readers alike condemn the idea of
veganism as a passing trend focused on health and nutrition. One reader
spoke of “confusion” and “discredit” that risks making veganism look
like “something for fashionable grannies.” Another pointed out that
this association with a trend could lead to people going vegan only for
a short time (what will happen when this green & healthy trend, like all
trends, goes out of style?) and never making any connection with animal
ethics.” A third commented that “this trend may popularize eating less
meat and feeling better about yourself, but does not directly promote
veganism, which is a political struggle.
ese testimonies pose the question of a solely veganist approach, such
as apparently exempli ed by blogs that o er “only” vegan recipes. Does
this strategy weaken the radical impetus of veganism as a politics?
A Pragmatic Complementary Approach
While it is useful to assess the pitfalls of such an approach, it seems,
however, that vegan food blogs, on the one hand, are part of a context of
complementarity and, on the other hand, opt for a pragmatic approach
that does not conceal the ethical aspect of veganism but takes the psycho-
logical reality of their audience into account. Finally, we must take note
of the diversity of the content o ered by some vegan bloggers—rather
than posting only recipes, they also o er articles featuring information or
thoughts about animal welfare and rights. In this sense, their blogs sup-
port the political demands of the animal-rights movement.
Vegan food blogs are not the only form of animal-rights activism
in France. A number of organizations, groups, and networks of activ-
ists have formed over the past few years working, like bloggers, to end
speciesism and carnism.  e French abolitionist organization L214 has
made animal ethics its key focus, circulating “disturbing” content such
as videos  lmed undercover at animal production facilities and events
aimed at making people aware of animal su ering. It orients sympathiz-
ers to vegan food blogs to help them put their philosophy into practice.
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 299
Indeed, some blog readers mentioned that although their awareness of
animal ethics is due to content presented by these organizations, they
regularly visit vegan food blogs to get recipe ideas and inspiration. In
this sense, blogs play a fundamentally pragmatic role, providing their
readers with concrete support and helping them put anti-speciesism into
practice in their daily lives.
Furthermore, because “disturbing” content and events can encounter
resistance in French society, it may seem easier to bring the general pub-
lic closer to ethical issues by normalizing veganism. One blogger said
that “showing shocking images of animals being mistreated often puts
people o —they stop listening to what we have to say!” In her opinion,
it is essential to “identify the type of person youre dealing with”—a cul-
tural, psychological, and interpretative approach that takes into account
the resistance mechanisms that act as obstacles blocking acceptance of
the information.
53 is approach also recognizes the possibility of grad-
ual individual evolution. A certain number of the bloggers interviewed
admitted that they did not become interested in veganism for ethical
reasons, but rather due to environmental or nutritional motivations. At
the same time, they all felt that they had been made aware of animal eth-
ics issues and that these were now core to their e orts.  e possibility of
this kind of evolution is echoed in the comments of some survey respon-
dents. One said, “I became vegetarian mainly because of environmental
and health issues. I was aware of the animal cause, but not enough for me
to take action.  e vegan blogs I read made me think more about it, in
particular the idea of speciesism.
Finally, not all vegan food blogs focus only on food, but even the ones
that do often include the blogger’s thoughts about ethical and political
issues alongside the recipes. Sophie said that she addresses the issue of
animal ethics “as often as possible in [her] articles, since that’s the most
important part for [her].”
54 Melle Pigut published a two-part article on
the myth of happy meat” in which she deconstructs the di erent strate-
gies aimed at suppressing the feeling of cognitive dissonance.
55 Lili wrote
an article exposing the force-feeding of ducks and geese to make foie gras.
Finally, Sandrine covered animal ethics in a series of articles with titles such
as “Why go vegetarian?,” “Why eat eggs?,” and “Why eat honey?”
56 ,
57 ,
is diversity was mentioned by several survey respondents, according
300 O. Véron
to whom “vegan food blogs dont necessarily o er recipes only; they also
provide information and  gures … that can help change mindsets.
It thus seems that vegan food blogs are not founded upon a purely
veganist strategy, which could weaken the political message of the anti-
speciesist movement. More generally, it appears that e orts to get more
recognition for animal rights is inseparable from a pragmatic approach
taking into account the cultural and psychological aspects surrounding
acceptance of social and ethical demands and the implementation of
political action.
Vegan food blogs have played a key role in helping veganism grow in
France over the past few years. Far from addressing only activists who
are already dedicated to the cause, bloggers have begun targeting a wider
audience, posting recipes, cooking techniques, tricks, and tips to put veg-
anism within everyone’s reach and, by introducing sophisticated, mod-
ern vegan cuisine, updating the image of veganism in French society. If
their direct role in raising the general public’s awareness of animal ethics
seems limited, it is, nevertheless, important, since blogs have often used
their popularity to circulate messages about justice and animal rights to
a population that had previously been almost completely unaware of
these issues. I will thus conclude this chapter with the positive impact
these blogs have had on promoting veganism as a political struggle, while
underscoring the need to avoid limiting ourselves to one type of strat-
egy, whether it is based on conversion or public debate. Just as a purely
veganist strategy is not enough to generate political and institutional
evolution, anti-speciesism as a social movement cannot do without prac-
tical daily support taking into account the cultural and psychological
considerations of the target audience. For this reason, we should ensure
that veganism should not be “abolished” but help support all demands
for the abolition of animal exploitation. An approach solely centered on
culinary enjoyments or health runs the risk of conveying on erroneous
message on veganism, which would therefore be deprived of its philo-
sophical component and reduced to a mere plant-based lifestyle and diet.
From Seitan Bourguignon to Tofu Blanquette 301
Because veganism is  rst and foremost an enacted way of opposing
speciesism and other ideologies of oppression, ethics should always be
kept at the forefront of the vegan movement.
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... Vegan restaurants can be looked at as business spaces working toward the reframing and acceptance of certain foods without challenging dominant modes of thought about eating while also trying to disseminate alternative ideas about food and attract a heterogenous clientele. Although growing in numbers, vegan restaurants in France (Veron 2016) cater mainly to a subculture marked by carnism, a term coined by Joy (2010), implying a prevailing ideology that reinforces the consumption of animal-based foods, particularly meat. However, while advocating the consumption of meat, carnism also classifies only particular animals as edible whereas the eating of others, as in the case of the consumption of dog meat in Korea, would be claimed as cruelty (Winzeler 2012). ...
... However, while advocating the consumption of meat, carnism also classifies only particular animals as edible whereas the eating of others, as in the case of the consumption of dog meat in Korea, would be claimed as cruelty (Winzeler 2012). Carnism dominates most diets and beliefs about food to the extent that many vegan recipes consist of mock meat dishes (Veron 2016). In China (Klein 2017) and Vietnam (Avieli 2014), vegetarian restaurants -some of which serve mock-meat dishes, while others serve vegetables identified as sourced from chemical-free farms -mark attempts of middle-class populations to stress a return to Buddhist philosophy and the protection of life. ...
... Moreover, restaurateurs are able to construct spaces in which vegan rules apply by "mainstreaming" veganism: marketing vegan adaptations to animal-based foods as fitting into established practices of consumption (Elzerman, Boekel, and Luning 2013;Fuentes and Fuentes 2017;Hoek et al. 2013;Schösler, Boer, and Boersema 2012). As in the case of vegan restaurants in France (Veron 2016), these practices testify to the dominance of an omnivore mode of thought about food among vegans, i.e., helping blur the restaurants' vegan identity and preventing veganism from emerging as an independent cuisine alongside other food traditions. ...
As the number of Israeli vegans grows, so do the restaurants that cater to them. In this context, this article looks at how vegan restaurateurs in Tel Aviv construct discourses on veganism. Rather than emphasizing the uniqueness and distinctiveness of veganism, these restaurants tend to contextualize it as part of two complementing discourses: the discourse of health and the discourse of environmentalism. By contextualizing veganism in discourses external to the dining sphere, restaurateurs see the consumption of vegan food as individual acts that actualize communal responsibility, translating it into good citizenship, but detached from ethical considerations for animals’ wellbeing. At the same time, restaurateurs engage in the “mainstreaming” of their restaurants by concealing their vegan identity and/or serving imitations of animal-based foods. This action dilutes the potential to critique the dominant social food norms embraced by a neoliberal economy that encourages consumption.
... Geography ought to be well placed to explore such developments given the longstanding history of work on alternative food networks and their mainstreaming (Guthman, 2003;Watts et al., 2005;Harris, 2009;Goodman et al., 2012;Slocum and Cadieux, 2015). But veganism is largely absent from geographic enquiry, with a few notable exceptions in work on animal geographies (Twine, 2014a), radical geographies (Véron, 2016;White, 2017) and alternative food economies (Hahn and Bruner, 2012), including a nascent programme for a new field of 'vegan geographies' (Hodge et al., forthcoming). A recent collaborative paper by Morris et al. (2021) outlines a timely and comprehensive social science and humanities research agenda for studying the 'challenges of moving beyond animalbased food systems'. ...
... Vegan activists and vegan studies scholars have long explored veganisms as praxis in place (White and Cudworth, 2014;Doyle, 2016;Véron, 2016;Martin, 2019). A recurring methodological approach is to offer first-hand researcher testimonies of the affective, physical places of farm animal life, including livestock auction rooms (Gillespie, 2018), slaughterhouses (Lockwood, 2018) and farm animal sanctuaries (Tulloch, 2018). ...
Full-text available
Veganism is the subject of an increasingly diverse body of social scientific research, yet it remains relatively understudied in geography. Meanwhile, contemporary cultural commentaries note how veganism has gone mainstream, with critics warning of veganism’s corporate nature – expressed in the rise of what we term ‘Big Veganism’. We argue that food geographers are well placed to examine these trends. We first review vegan studies work beyond geography that examines and critiques the mainstreaming of veganism. We focus on literature that explores multiple contested modes of veganism, veganism as praxis in place and the rise of corporate veganism as useful foundations for geographers to build on, particularly in light of currently unfolding developments in vegan cultures and practice. Taking this work forward, we identify four conceptual traditions from research in food geographies – following foodways, alternative food networks and the cultural and material politics of eating – to develop a ‘vegan food geographies’ programme that aims to advance critical geographic work on veganism and the emerging implications of its contemporary mainstreaming.
... Current research has focused on a variety of dietary specificities of food blogs and their impact on customer behavior, such as clean eating blogs [14,25], healthy eating blogs [26][27][28], and vegan diet blogs [29,30]. The major impact of these social media influencers lies within their ability to redefine what is considered to be current and updated [31]. ...
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Many people now consider social networking to be an indispensable tool. There are now over 4.6 billion social media users, who leave a digital footprint through their online interactions. These big data provide enormous research potential for identifying the social and cultural aspects of the monitored topic. Moreover, the use of social media platforms has been found to have an impact on eating habits. The analysis of these social networks is thus essential to understand the factors that influence eating habits. To this aim, we identified the main topics associated with food bloggers on Twitter using the Social Media Analysis based on the Hashtag Research Framework of 686,450 Tweets captured from 171,243 unique users from 1 January 2017 to 30 May 2022. Based on the analysis of communication on Twitter, the most communicated hashtags in the food blogger sphere were as follows: #yummy, #healthy, #homemade, and #vegan. From the point of view of communities, three major clusters were identified, including (1) healthy lifestyle, (2) home-made food, and (3) fast food, and two minor clusters were identified, namely, (4) breakfast and brunch and (5) food traveling.
... Our study also suggests a decrease in the consumption of RPM between 2007 and 2012 and between 2012 and 2017. This finding is in line with previous reports showing a decline in or stabilisation of the consumption of beef and pork (3) and might partly be a reflection of the 'veggie boom' described in previous studies (16,19,42) . Since the consumption of poultry has increasingly grown during the past decade (3) , however, some part of meat consumption may have shifted from RPM to poultry. ...
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From health and sustainability perspectives, reduction in the consumption of animal-based foods, especially red meat, is a key strategy. The present study examined the prevalence, sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, food consumption and food choice motives of vegetarians and consumers of low and high amounts of red and processed meat (RPM) among Finnish adults. We applied the data from three national health studies: FINRISK 2007 ( n 4874), FINRISK 2012 ( n 4812) and FinHealth 2017 ( n 4442). Participants addressed their food consumption with a FFQ and answered other questionnaires about sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, as well as food choice motives. The prevalence of vegetarianism increased from 0·7 % in 2012 to 1·8 % in 2017, and median daily RPM consumption decreased from 128 g in 2007 to 119 g in 2012 and to 96 g in 2017. Vegetarians and members of the low-RPM group were more often women, younger and more highly educated than the high-RPM group, both in 2007 and 2017. Still, the importance of sex for the probability of a vegetarian diet decreased, while its importance for high-RPM consumption increased. Vegetarians consumed more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds than either the low- or high-RPM groups. The high-RPM group had the lowest scores in several aspects of healthy and sustainable diet, healthy food choice motives and healthy lifestyle. Vegetarians and groups differing in their RPM consumption levels might benefit from differing interventions and nutrition information taking into account their other dietary habits, food choice motives and lifestyle factors.
... Instagram memungkinkan penyebaran informasi seputar gaya hidup vegan menjangkau masyarakat luas dan memiliki potensi untuk mempersuasi banyak orang mengurangi konsumsi daging hewan. Karena lewat Instagram dapat disediakan informasi vegan secara virtual, maka orang-orang yang biasanya tidak terjangkau oleh kampanye fisik seperti orang-orang yang tinggal di daerah pedesaan dan jauh dari kota, Instagram memungkinkan penyebaran informasi seputar gaya hidup vegan sampai ke mereka (Veron, 2016). Hal ini sesuai dengan pernyataan bahwa kemampuan untuk mendapatkan informasi seputar vegan dari vegan influencers dapat mempengaruhi individu untuk memperluas opsi pemilihan makanan dan mempraktikan gaya hidup yang lebih sehat (Johnston & Goodman, 2015). ...
... In this chapter, we examine research on, and discuss how to research, food blogs as sites for analysis and interpretation. Blog research may consider a single blog (e.g., Howarth, 2017) or consider material drawn from across a range of related blogs, all focussed on the researcher's topic of interest (e.g., Véron, 2016). In the latter case, we can consider the related set of food blogs as a community of interest (in Véron's research, the community of interest was French vegan bloggers). ...
... These products differ in terms of their nutritional value, the technological challenges required for production, and their current acceptance as alternatives to meat (van der Weele et al., 2019). These products also differ in terms of their origins: they can be sourced from plants, such as legumes (i.e., plants with seeds in a pod, such as beans or peas; Lemken, Spiller, & Schulze-Ehlers, 2018, 2019, tofu (i.e., a soft, pale high-protein food, made from the seed of the soya plant; Ottenfeld, Bernstein, & Wittle, 2008), seitan (i.e., a meat substitute made from wheat which can often resemble meat in texture; Véron, 2016); or they can be sourced from animals, such as insects (i.e., crickets, earthworms; Hartmann & Siegrist, 2016) and lab-grown meat (i.e., meat that is cultivated based on animal cells; Bryant & Barnett, 2018). ...
Understanding consumer perceptions of meat alternatives is key to facilitating a shift toward more sustainable food consumption. Importantly, these perceptions may vary according to the characteristics of the consumer (e.g., preferences, motivations), the product (e.g., sensory attributes) and the encounter (e.g., how the meat alternative is presented/framed). Qualitative and quantitative methods were applied to examine consumer perceptions of five proposed alternatives to meat: legumes, tofu, seitan, lab-grown meat, and insects. In Study 1, 138 participants provided free associations with regards to conventional animal proteins (e.g., red/white meat, fish) and the five alternatives. Three profiles of consumers were identified: (1) hedonically motivated meat eaters uninterested in meat substitutes; (2) health-oriented meat eaters open to some meat substitutes; and (3) ethically conscious meat avoiders positively oriented to most meat alternatives. In Study 2, the presentation of the product was experimentally manipulated: 285 participants evaluated the same five meat alternatives along several dimensions (e.g., edibility, healthiness), either when framed as an individual product or as part of a larger meal. Overall, most meat alternatives benefited from a meal framing, with the notable exception of legumes, which benefited from an individual framing, and insects which were evaluated quite negatively regardless of framing. The present findings suggest that there is not a single way to frame all meat alternatives that will improve their appeal to all consumers.
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Food is a profoundly political issue, with themes such as environmental sustainability and ethics becoming increasingly important. These concerns have given rise to a new kind of mobilization around vegetarian and vegan eating in recent years. In-depth analyses of the characteristics of this new wave of veganism are needed. Our study explores how the new forms of carnivalesque and carefree veganism are negotiated with the older aims of veganism as political consumerism. Moreover, we aim to understand how new forms of digital food communities are built and take momentum. With these aims, we analyze a social media community for vegan food, a Finnish Facebook group called “Sipsikaljavegaanit,” Crisps and Beer Vegans (CBV). The group celebrates indulgent veganism, and by confronting several contemporary concerned food discourses related to, e.g., health, body, and gender, it has broadened the public image of veganism. We analyze indulgent veganism as a form of carnivalesque and political consumerism, taking Mikhail Bakhtin's theorization of the carnival as our analytical framework. Our analysis shows how veganism is reconfigured through various mésalliances, detaching it from previous stereotypes, and how profanation of the stereotypes differentiates between variously motivated veganisms. The carnivalesque spirit is maintained through rather heavy-handed moderation practices online, in contradiction to the idea of free communication in a public sphere. We claim that the political appeal of the new-wave veganism is in the cultivation of vitality and joy, placing serious societal concerns into the Bakhtinian genre of the serio-comical.
Situated alongside, and intertwined with, climate change and the relentless destruction of ‘wild’ nature, the global Covid-19 pandemic should have instigated serious reflection on our profligate use and careless treatment of other animals. Widespread references to ‘pivotal moments’ and the need for a reset in human relations with ‘nature’ appeared promising. However, important questions surrounding the pandemic’s origins and its wider context continue to be ignored and, as a result, this moment has proved anything but pivotal for animals. To explore this disconnect, this paper undertakes an analysis of dominant Covid discourses across key knowledge sites comprising mainstream media, major organizations, academia, and including prominent animal advocacy organizations. Drawing on the core tenets of Critical Animal Studies, the concept of critical animal perspectives is advanced as a way to assess these discourses and explore the illegitimacy of alternative ways of thinking about animals. Broadly, it is found that dominant Covid discourses fail to engage with the mechanisms by which human uses of nature and other animals are justified – specifically binary thinking, the normalization and naturalization of hierarchical categories of use, and the commodification of their lives and bodies – or to specify the nature and scope of practices that need to change. These key sites of knowledge, and also prominent advocacy organizations, thus reflect the illegitimacy of critical animal perspectives while also contributing to their ongoing delegitimation. Exacerbating this situation is the illegitimacy of the animal advocacy movement itself, which is attributed in part to movement factionalism and a diversity of poorly articulated aims. Mainstreaming and normalizing critical perspectives on animals has never been more necessary. Extended beyond academia, critical animal perspectives offer a potentially productive and practical way of approaching this endeavour so that future moments may be truly pivotal for humans and nonhumans alike.
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In Great Britain, “religion or belief” is one of nine “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010, which protects citizens from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. This paper begins with a discussion about a 2020 ruling, “Jordi Casamitjana vs. LACS”, which concluded that ethical vegans are entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold philosophical religious beliefs. While not all vegans hold a philosophical belief to the same extent as Casamitjana, the ruling is significant and will be of interest to scholars investigating non-religious ethical beliefs. To explore this, we have analysed a sample of YouTube videos on the theme of “my vegan story”, showing how vloggers circulate narratives about ethical veganism and the process of their conversion to vegan beliefs and practices. The story format can be understood as what Abby Day has described as a performative “belief narrative”, offering a greater opportunity to understand research participants’ beliefs and related identities than, for example, findings from a closed-question survey. We suggest that through performative acts, YouTubers create “ethical beliefs” through the social, mediatised, transformative, performative and relational practice of their digital content. In doing so, we incorporate a digital perspective to enrich academic discussions of non-religious beliefs.
Introduction Sharing food is central to culture. Indeed, according to Montanari, “food is culture” (xii). Ways of sharing knowledge about food, such as the exchange of recipes, give longevity to food sharing. Recipes, an important cultural technology, expand the practice of sharing food beyond specific times and places. The means through which recipes, and information about food, is shared has historically been communicated through whatever medium is available at the time. Cookbooks were among the first printed books, with the first known cookbook published in 1485 at Nuremberg, which set a trend in which cookbooks were published in most of the languages across Western Europe by the mid 16th century (Mennell). Since then, recipe collections have found a comfortable home in new and emerging media, from radio, to television, and now, online. The proliferation of cookbooks and other forms of food-related media “can be interpreted as a reflection of culinary inexperience, if not also incompetence—otherwise why so much reliance on outside advice?” (Belasco 46). Food-related media has also been argued to reflect both what people eat and what they might wish they could eat (Neuhaus, in Belasco). As such, cookbooks, television cooking shows, and food websites help shape our identity and, as Gallegos notes, play “a role in inscribing the self with a sense of place, belonging and achievement” (99). Food writing has expanded beyond the instructional form common to cookbooks and television cooking shows and, according to Hughes, “has insinuated itself into every aspect of the literary imagination” (online) from academic writing through to memoir, fiction, and travel writing. Hughes argues that concerns that people are actually now cooking less that ever, despite this influx of food-related media, miss the point that “food writing is a literary activity […] the best of it does what good writing always does, which is to create an alternative world to the one you currently inhabit” (online). While pragmatic, this argument also reinforces the common perception that food writing is a professional pursuit. It is important to note that while cookbooks and other forms of food-related media are well established as a means for recipes to be communicated, recipes have a longer history of being shared between individuals, that is, within families and communities. In helping to expand recipe-sharing practices, food-related media has also both professionalised and depersonalised this activity. As perhaps a reaction to this, or through a desire to re-establish communal recipe-sharing traditions, blogging, and specifically food blogging, has emerged as a new and viable way for people to share information about food in a non-professional capacity. Blogging has long been celebrated for its capacity to give “ordinary” people a voice (Nilsson). Due to their social nature (Walker Rettberg) and the ability for bloggers to create “networks for sharing ideas, trends and information” (Walker Rettberg 60), blogs are a natural fit for sharing recipes and information about food. Additionally, blogs, like food-related media forms such as cookbooks, are also used as tools for identity building. Blogger’s identities may be closely tied to their offline identity (Baumer, Sueyoshi and Tomlinson), forged through discussions about their everyday lives (Lövheim) or used in a professional capacity (Kedrowicz and Sullivan). Food blogs, broadly defined as blogs primarily focused on food, are one of the most prominent means through which so-called “ordinary” people can share recipes online, and can be seen to challenge perceptions that food writing is a professional activity. They may focus specifically on recipes, restaurant reviews, travel, food ethics, or aesthetic concerns such as food styling and photography. Since food blogs began to appear in the early 2000s, their number has steadily increased, and the community has become more established and structured. In my interview with the writer of the popular blog Chocolate & Zucchini, she noted that when she started blogging about food in 2003 there were perhaps a dozen other food bloggers. Since then, this blogger has become a professional food writer, published author, and recipe developer, while the number of food bloggers has grown dramatically. It is difficult to know the precise number of food blogs—as at July 2012, Technorati ranked more than 16,000 food blogs, including both recipe and restaurant review blogs (online)—but it is clear that they are both increasing in number and have become a common and popular blog genre. For the purposes of this article, food blogs are understood as those blogs that mostly feature recipes. The term “recipe blog” could be used, but food bloggers make little distinction between different topic categories—whether someone writes recipes or reviews, they are referred to as a food blogger. As such, I have used the term “food blog” in keeping with the community’s own terminology and practices. Recipes published on blogs reach a wider audience than those shared between individuals within a family or in a community, but are not as exclusive or professional, in most instances, as traditional food-related media. Blogging allows for the compression of time and space, as people can connect with others from around the world, and respond and reinvigorate posts sometimes several years after they have been written. In this sense, food blogs are more dynamic than cookbooks, with multiple entry points and means for people to discover them—through search engines as well as through traditional word of mouth referrals. This dynamism allows food bloggers to form an active community through which “ordinary” people can share their passion for food and the pleasures of cooking, seek advice, give feedback, and discuss such issues as seasonality, locality, and diet. This article is based on research I conducted on food blogs between 2010 and 2012, which used an ethnographic, cultural studies approach to online community studies to provide a rich description of the food blogging community. It examines how food blogging provides insight into the eating habits of “ordinary” people in a more broad-based manner than traditional food-related media such as cookbooks. It looks at how food blogging has evolved from a subcultural activity to an established and recognised element of the wider food-related media ecology, and in this way has been transformed from a hobbyist activity to a cottage industry. It discusses how food blogs have influenced food-related media and the potential they have to drive food trends. In doing so, this research does not consider the Internet, or online communities, as separate or distinct from offline culture. Instead, it follows Richard Rogers’s argument for a new approach to Internet studies, in which “one is not so much researching the Internet, and its users, as studying culture and society with the Internet” (29). A cultural studies approach is useful for understanding food blogs in a broader historical and cultural context, since it considers the Internet as “a rich arena for thinking about how contemporary culture is constituted” (Hine et al. 2). Food Blogging: From Hobbyist Activity to Cottage Industry Benkler argues that “people have always created their own culture” (296); however, as folk culture has gradually been replaced by mass-produced popular culture, we have come to expect certain production values in culture, and lost confidence in creating or sharing it ourselves, for fear of it not meeting these high standards. Such mass-produced popular culture includes food-related media and recipes, as developing and sharing recipes has become the domain of celebrity chefs. Food blogs are created by “ordinary” people, and in this way continue the tradition of community cookbooks and reflect an increased interest in both the do-it-yourself phenomena, and a resurgence of a desire to share and contribute to folk culture. Jenkins argues that “a thriving culture needs spaces where people can do bad art, get feedback, and get better” (140-1). He notes that the Internet has drastically expanded the availability of these spaces, and argues that: "some of what amateurs create will be surprisingly good, and some artists will be recruited into commercial entertainment or the art world. Much of it will be good enough to engage the interest of some modest public, to inspire someone else to create, to provide new content which, when polished through many hands, may turn into something more valuable down the line" (140-1). Food blogs provide such a space for amateurs to share their creations and get feedback. Additionally, some food bloggers, like the artists to whom Jenkins refers, do create recipes, writing, and images that are “surprisingly good”, and are recruited, not into commercial entertainment or the art world, but into food-related media. Some food bloggers publish cookbooks (for example, Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zucchini), or food-related memoirs (for example, Molly Wizenberg of Orangette), and some become food celebrities in their own right, as guests on high profile television shows such as Martha Stewart (Matt Armendariz of mattbites) or with their own cooking shows (Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman Cooks). Others, while not reaching these levels of success, do manage to inspire others to create, or recreate their, recipes. Mainstream media has a tendency to suggest that all food bloggers have professional aspirations (see, for example, Phipps). Yet, it is important to note that, many food bloggers are content to remain hobbyists. These food bloggers form the majority of the community, and blog about food because they are interested in food, and enjoy sharing recipes and discussing their interest with like-minded people. In this way, they are contributing to, and engaging with, folk culture within the blogging community. However, this does not mean that they do not have a broader impact on mainstream food-related media. Food-Related Media Response As the food blogging community has grown, food-related media and other industries have responded with attempts to understand, engage with, and manage food bloggers. Food blogs are increasingly recognised as an aspect of the broader food-related media and, as such, provide both competition and opportunities for media and other industries. Just as food blogs offer individuals opportunities for entry into food-related media professions, they also offer media and other industries opportunities to promote products, reach broader audiences, and source new talent. While food bloggers do not necessarily challenge existing food-related media, they increasingly see themselves as a part of it, and expect to be viewed as a legitimate part of the media landscape and as an alternative source of food-related information. As such, they respond positively to the inclusion of bloggers in food-related media and in other food-related environments. Engaging with the food blogging community allows the wider food-related media to subtly regulate blogger behaviour. It can also provide opportunities for some bloggers to be recruited in a professional capacity into food-related media. In a sense, food-related media attempt to “tame” food bloggers by suggesting that if bloggers behave in a way that they deem is acceptable, they may be able to transition into the professional world of food writing. The most notable example of this response to food blogs by food-related media is the decision to publish blogger’s work. While not all food bloggers have professional aspirations, being published is generally viewed within the community as a positive outcome. Food bloggers are sometimes profiled in food-related media, such as in the Good Weekend magazine in The Sydney Morning Herald (Karnikowski), and in MasterChef Magazine, which profiles a different food blogger each month (T. Jenkins). Food bloggers are also occasionally commissioned to write features for food-related media, as Katie Quinn Davies, of the blog What Katie Ate, who is a regular contributor to delicious magazine. Other food bloggers have been published in their own right. These food bloggers have transitioned from hobbyists to professionals, moving beyond blogging spaces into professional food-related media, and they could be, in Abercrombie and Longhurst’s terms, described as “petty producers” (140). As professionals, they have become a sort of “brand”, which their blog supports and promotes. This is not to say they are no longer interested in food or blogging on a personal level, but their relationship to these activities has shifted. For example, Dusoulier has published numerous books, and was one of the first food bloggers to transition into professional food-related media. However, her career in food-related media—as a food writer, recipe developer and author—goes beyond the work of a petty producer. Dusoulier edited the first English-language edition of I Know How To Cook (Mathiot), which, first published in 1932 (in French), has been described as the “bible” of traditional French cookery. Her work revising this classic book reveals that, beyond being a high-profile member of the food blogging community, she is a key figure in wider food culture. Such professional food bloggers achieve a certain level of celebrity both within the food blogging community and in food-related media. This is reflective of broader media trends in which “ordinary” people are “plucked from obscurity to enjoy a highly circumscribed celebrity” (Turner 12), and, in this way, food bloggers challenge the idea that you need to be an “expert” to talk publicly about food. Food Blogging as an Established Genre Food blogs are often included alongside traditional food-related media as another source of food-related information. For example, the site Eat your books, which indexes cookbooks, providing users with an online tool for searching the recipes in the books they own, has begun to index food blogs as well. Likewise, in 2010, the James Beard Foundation announced that their prestigious journalism awards had “mostly abolished separate categories based on publishing platforms”, although they still have an award for best food blog (Fox online). This inclusion reflects how established food blogging has become. Over time, food blogs have co-evolved and converged with food-related media, offering greater diversity of opinion. Ganda Suthivarakom, a food blogger and now director of the SAVEUR website, says that “in 2004, to be a food blogger was to be an outsider in the world of food media. Today, it couldn’t be more different” (online). She argues that “food blogs leveled the playing field […] Instead of a rarefied and inaccessible group of print reviewers having a say, suddenly thousands of voices of varying skill levels and interests chimed in, and the conversation became livelier” (Suthivarakom online). It is worthwhile noting that while there are more voices and more diversity in traditional food-related media, food blogging has also become somewhat of a cliché: it has even been satirised in an episode of The Simpsons (Bailey and Anderson). As food blogging has evolved it has developed into an established and recognised genre, which may be nuanced to the bloggers themselves, but often appears generic to outsiders. Food blogging has, as it were, gone mainstream. As such, the thousands of voices are also somewhat of an echo chamber. In becoming established as a genre, food blogs reflect the gradual convergence of different types of food-related media. Food blogs are part of a wider trend towards user-generated, food-related online content. It could also be argued that reality shows take cues from food blogs in terms of their active audiences and use of social media. MasterChef in particular is supported by a website, a magazine, and active social media channels, reflecting an increasing expectation of audience participation and interactivity in the delivery of food-related information. Food bloggers have also arguably contributed to the increasingly image-driven nature of food-related media. They have also played a key role in the popularity of sharing photos of food through platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Food Blogs and Food Trends Food blogs, like cookbooks, can be seen to both reflect and shape culture (Gallegos). In addition to providing an archive of what “ordinary” people are cooking on a scale not previously available, they have potential to influence food trends. Food bloggers are essentially food enthusiasts or “foodies”. According to De Solier, “most foodies see themselves as culturalists rather than materialists, people whose self-making is bound up in the acquisition of cultural experiences and knowledge, rather than the accumulation of material things” (16). As foodies, food bloggers are deeply engaged with food, keen to share their knowledge and, due to the essential and convivial nature of food, are afforded many opportunities to do so. As such, food blogs have influence beyond the food blogging community. For example, food bloggers could be seen to be responsible, in part at least, for the current popularity of macarons. These sweet, meringue-based biscuits were featured on the blog A la cuisine! in 2004—one of the earliest examples of the recipe in the food blogging community. Its popularity then steadily grew throughout the community, and has since been featured on high-profile and popular blogs such as David Lebovitz (2005), The Traveller’s Lunchbox (2005), and La Tartine Gourmand (2006). Creating and posting a recipe for macarons became almost a rite of passage for food bloggers. At a food blogging conference I attended in 2011, one blogger confided to me that she did not feel like a proper blogger because she had not yet made macarons. The popularity of macarons then extended beyond the food blogging community. They were the subject of a book, I Love Macarons (Ogita), first published in Japanese in 2006 and then in English in 2009, and featured in a cooking challenge on MasterChef (Byrnes), which propelled their popularity into mainstream food culture. Macarons, which could have once been seen as exclusive, delicate, and expensive (Jargon and Passariello) are now readily available, and can even be purchased at MacDonalds. Beyond the popularity of specific foods, the influence of food bloggers can be seen in the growing interest in where, and how, food is produced, coupled with concerns around food wastage (see, for example, Tristram). Concerns about food production are sometimes countered by the trend of making foods “from scratch,” a popular topic on food blogs, and such trends can also be seen in wider food culture, such as with classes on topics ranging from cheese making to butchering (Severson). These concerns are also evident in the growing interest in organic and ethical produce (Paish). Conclusion Food blogs have demonstrably revitalised an interest in recipe sharing among “ordinary” people. The evolution of food blogs, however, is just one part of the ongoing evolution of food-related media and recipe sharing technologies. Food blogs are also an important part of food culture, and indeed, culture more broadly. They reflect a renewed interest in folk culture and the trend towards “do-it-yourself”, seen in online and offline communities. Beyond this, food blogs provide a useful case study for understanding how our online and offline lives have become intertwined, and showcase the Internet as a part of everyday life. 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Food: The Key Concepts presents an exciting, coherent and interdisciplinary introduction to food studies for the beginning reader. Food Studies is an increasingly complex field, drawing on disciplines as diverse as Sociology, Anthropology and Cultural Studies at one end and Economics, Politics and Agricultural Science at the other. In order to clarify the issues, Food: The Key Concepts distills food choices down to three competing considerations: consumer identity; matters of convenience and price; and an awareness of the consequences of what is consumed. The book concludes with an examination of two very different future scenarios for feeding the world's population: the technological fix, which looks to science to provide the solution to our future food needs; and the anthropological fix, which hopes to change our expectations and behaviors. Throughout, the analysis is illustrated with lively case studies. Bulleted chapter summaries, questions and guides to further reading are also provided.
Community cookbooks have long served as organizational locations for women’s associations, church groups, and charity organizations in the United States. In creating communities, these textual associations implicitly rebuke a social order that devalues women’s work, authorize forms of communication and knowledge that have been ignored and suppressed, and bring into being collective forms of social, economic, and political identity. But understanding these communities as undermining norms of gender, as protesting domesticity and obeisance, or, alternatively, as liberating women from gender norms is to mistake world creation for resistance. Community cookbooks operate through the senses and the body as judgments about belonging; by creating and reprinting the socially gustative in book formats, they encourage a reading of communal political identities as more a matter of intensification of identity than defiance or domination.
In this incisive book, Michel de Certeau considers the uses to which social representation and modes of social behavior are put by individuals and groups, describing the tactics available to the common man for reclaiming his own autonomy from the all-pervasive forces of commerce, politics, and culture. In exploring the public meaning of ingeniously defended private meanings, de Certeau draws brilliantly on an immense theoretical literature to speak of an apposite use of imaginative literature.