The beef with vegans: Managing stigma in Britain’s hegemonic meat culture

Hannah Howard
Edge Hill University
January 2021


As one of the fastest growing lifestyle choices, veganism is a diet, lifestyle and social movement motivated by animal rights, environmental protection and human health. Veganism is considered socially deviant from the hegemonic meat culture of the UK and so vegans often receive stigma when expressing this element of their identity. 

This study aimed to critically examine how vegans manage stigma dependent on the social and spatial context. Semi-structured interviews with 20 vegans in north-west England revealed that vegans employ four main strategies to manage stigma: acceptance, avoidance, reduction and denial. The chosen management technique was determined by a stigmatised individual’s acceptance or rejection of public understandings of the stigma and the applicability of the stigma to the self. Social and spatial context were often emphasised by participants, with many vegans communicating a need to adapt their management techniques in accordance with the situation– often employing elements of different strategies simultaneously. The study thus highlights the idea of stigma as a social construct that is shifting and wide-ranging.

Author profile

Hannah Howard graduated with a First Class honour’s degree in BA Human Geography from Edge Hill University in 2020. This research was conducted between May and September 2019 as part of the final year dissertation and was supervised by Dr Simon Dickinson.

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veganism, social deviance, stigma, stigma management

The beef with vegans: Managing stigma in Britain’s hegemonic meat culture by Hannah Howard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Original Papers - GEOverse
ISSN 1758-3411
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