Document Type

Honors Project


I warmly thank the many restaurant owners that shared their time and energy to talk with me, the wonderful staff, particularly Laura, at Bloodless Meatery who graciously provided the opportunity for me to spend my summer working at the shop, my amazing advisor and professors for inspiring creativity when I had none, my sociology cohort for supporting me through this entire paper, and my parents for supporting me in my college journey.


Insights from organizational and economic sociology predict the emergence of new product categories is not simply a matter of developing something novel, but also the result of a cultural process making claims about these products. The recent pursuit of sustainable consumption exemplifies one of these processes, linking ethical qualities and claims to create connections between products and the people who consume them. Plant-based meat, as an emerging market contextualized by the ideas of ethical consumption surrounding the broader plant-based food movement, provides a unique opportunity to explore how lifestyle movements and novel ideas result in the creation of new product categories. Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews with plant-based meat producers and restaurants that serve these products, this project explores the emergence of plant-based meat as a set of products and as a market. I find that there is variation in how plant-based meat producers position their products based on the extent to which they connect their products to broader social movements. Despite these differences in production, restaurants understand these different products as belonging to the larger plant-based meat category and present them not on the ethical basis of producers but by using different standards of judgment based on how the restaurants position themselves to their consumers. Together, producers and restaurants engage in an interactive process to generate and integrate new products in the act of mainstreaming plant-based meat beyond an ethical project.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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