Meatsplaining: The Meat Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial

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Type of Call: 
Call for papers
June 1, 2018


Meatsplaining: The Meat Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial


The proposed volume, Meatsplaining: The Meat Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial, will explore the different rhetorical strategies employed by the meat industry to shield itself from public scrutiny and accountability. It will feature essays by scholars and activists from a variety of backgrounds and critical perspectives. The aim is to bring systematic attention to an integral part of modern capitalist power and domination that has long evaded critical analysis.


The meat industry comprises one of the largest and most deeply entrenched sectors of modern industrial capitalism. Over one quarter of all land on earth is devoted to livestock production. Animal farming is a major contributor to climate change and a primary driver of deforestation. Yet, the sheer impact of this powerful industry remains hidden from public view. Through legions of well-paid lobbyists, the meat industry wields vast influence and authority over our governments, laws, and public policies. It influences research in nutrition and medicine. It maintains a formidable grip over the public imagination, shaping our tastes, appetites, and desires through unrelenting, multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns designed to promote meat as the most basic component of a healthy diet, the culmination of a proper meal, a core element of modern masculinity, and even a fundamental part of American patriotism.

Like other profit-driven industries, the meat industry seeks to shield itself from external threats. The biggest of these threats is negative publicity, which can take a serious toll on industry profits. Negative publicity arises through public awareness of different aspects of the meat industry: violence against animals, the destruction of the environment, adverse health consequences of meat consumption, and the inhumane treatment of workers at animal farms and meat processing plants.

What, then, are the rhetorical strategies by which the meat industry seeks to neutralize public criticism and shield itself from public scrutiny? This volume explores the phenomenon of “meatsplaining”: the meat industry’s rhetoric of denial.


The proposed volume seeks to address topics such as the following:

· The denial of animal suffering

· The false hope of animal welfare

· The myth of sustainable meat

· The myths of “organic,” “free range,” “grass-fed,” and “humane” meat

· The ecological costs of animal agriculture

· The meat industry’s influence upon nutritional science

· The meat industry’s influence upon federal food guidelines

The proposed volume seeks to answer questions such as the following:

· What are the recurring strategies of persuasion by which the meat industry seeks to alleviate public outrage and concern over the treatment of animals?

· What narratives, myths, and fantasies does the meat industry employ to sustain its place in the modern social imaginary?

· How does the meat industry construct its public character? What role does it seek to portray to the public?

· How does the meat industry construct its audience?

· How does it construct its critics and opponents?

· How does it create new audiences? Through what methods of interpellation?

· How does it shape modern conceptions of masculinity?

· How has it responded to public health studies linking meat consumption to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes?

· How has the industry responded to animal justice activism? Through what rhetorical frame do they envision their battle against the animal justice movement?

· How does meat labeling mislead consumers?

· How is animal suffering dignified, euphemized, and denied through the vocabulary of agricultural science?


This volume is designed for students and scholars of critical animal studies. It speaks to the many disciplines that contribute to the field of critical animal studies: media studies, rhetorical studies, philosophy, political science, sociology, and literature. This volume will also be of immense interest to the animal rights movement and plant-based health movement. It will thus hold broad appeal across academic and non-academic audiences.


If you are interested in participating in this project, please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words, along with a brief bio and institutional affiliation, to  by Friday, February, 16, 2018. Final decisions will be made shortly after. Final drafts will be due June 1, 2018.

Jason Hannan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dept. of Rhetoric and Communication

University of Winnipeg

Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9


Tel: 204.786.9453