'Eat big to get big' Discourses on obtaining an athletic body through high protein diets and their environmental impact

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Human diets contribute significantly to anthropogenic climate change, with the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use sector accounting for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock protein consumption has been identified as a significant contributor to global warming, prompting a shift toward plant-based diets to reduce emissions. However, a growing trend within the fitness community towards clean and healthy living, combined with increased protein consumption, puts sustainability goals in jeopardy. Using netnography and cultural discourse analysis, this study investigates online discourses within the fitness community. The findings reveal three major themes: the pursuit of physical goals, aspirations for self-improvement, and the identification of essential resources, with gender differences noted. Protein is emerging as an important factor influencing cultural practises in fitness communities. While clean and healthy living predominates, there is little discussion of environmental issues. Despite mentions of plant-based alternatives on occasion, resistance to shifting away from animal-based proteins prevails, impeding meaningful change. The study reveals a significant gap in the discourse about the environmental impact of dietary choices within online fitness communities, highlighting the difficulties in aligning fitness goals with sustainability objectives.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen