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Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1809-4481


BARROS, Guilherme Santiago de; MENESES, José Newton Coelho  and  SILVA, José Ailton da. Social representations of meat consumption in the city of Belo Horizonte. Physis [online]. 2012, vol.22, n.1, pp.365-383. ISSN 1809-4481.

The goal of this study was to identify social representations of meat consumption in Belo Horizonte-MG, through qualitative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 34 Belo Horizonte Central Market goers and analyzed based on the content analyze technique. It was verified that the taste for meat is mainly represented as a cultural construction and also that meat takes a central part on meals, sometimes working as an element of social cohesion. The Lenten abstinence from meat showed to be emptied of its original meaning, perpetuating itself as a simple tradition or Catholic Church norm. It was observed that in several occasions red meat contained the meaning of "meat" exclusively in itself. There were several representations towards health, being meat consumption represented as being healthy or not healthy depending on the circumstance. Furthermore, when costs were approached, meat transited from a necessary to an optional item. Meat was strongly identified as a source of protein and white meat was considered healthier than red meat. Pork meat was represented as fatty and as a potential disease carrier. In general social representations of meat consumption were shown to be independent of the representations of farm animals. It is expected from health professionals to take into account the complexity and importance of the cultural factor in the meat consumption in order to mitigate the risk of guiding their actions based on a reductionist technicality. Results may also be useful to meat industry as well as to non-consuming defenders.

Keywords : meat consumption; social representations; qualitative research.

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