Research project

Man Food: Exploring men's opportunities for 'becoming an ecological citizen' through protein-related food practices.

  • Lead researcher:
  • Research funder:
    Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • Status:
    Not active

Project overview

Current global trends in meat consumption are unsustainable, with large-scale livestock production carrying significant environmental costs - greenhouse gas emissions, land and water usage, and animal health and welfare concerns. Man Food is a project that brings together community partners with university researchers to explore questions around food and the environment, specifically in relation to men's consumption practices. The project is not about directly changing men's behaviour, but rather about seeing if there are different ways in which men can relate to food that might benefit health, lifestyle and the environment.

It comes out of two previous projects looking at food and community, and involves a series of food workshops with men, the production of a new art performance, a toolkit for organisations that addresses the project's central concerns, and a series of discussion lunches as part of Healthy City Week in Bristol.

Researchers Emma Roe and Paul Hurley are employing an approach they call "becoming an ecological citizen", as a way of thinking about the individual's relationship to the environment as one of citizenship rather than purely of (ethical) consumerism. It employs a hands-on and creative approach to connect people to issues like food through activities like cooking and eating. This enables different conversations to take place that might enable people to rethink their practices and beliefs around food. In the context of Man Food, we are interested in how this approach might be applied to men, in thinking about protein diversification - eating a range of protein like vegetables, beans, eggs and fish, as well as / instead of meat - to support organisations keen to address men's food choices in relation to personal health and environmentally-motivated behaviours.

The university researchers will work in partnership with Windmill Hill City Farm, a charity that provides educational, recreational and therapeutic activities by giving the local community opportunities to experience farming in the heart of the city. Along with Knowle West Health Park's group Man Alive, the farm will be involved in the development of a series of food workshops with men from a range of backgrounds across Bristol.

Man Food will also have an artist working on the project, who will use video and other approaches to creatively respond to ideas emerging in the interactive workshops. These will form the basis of an art performance created for the At-Bristol planetarium, a video of which will also be available on the Man Food website.

Over the course of the project, the team will develop the 'becoming an ecological citizen' approach in specific relation to men and protein, and will produce a toolkit, available digitally, for other organisations wanting to explore similar ideas and activities. Central to the researchers' way of working is to be in dialogue with WHCF and KWHP, to ensure outputs like the toolkit and workshops are the most relevant and useful they can be.

The team will also work to open up conversations around this subject (from this project as well as from the learning from previous projects on which it builds), through public discussion events called Man Food Picnics, during Healthy City Week. It will also extend conversations through social media and through relationships with other organisations, like At-Bristol, Flexitarian Bristol, Hubbub, The Matthew Tree Project and The Edible Landscape Movement.

Planned Impact
Man Food builds on experience from the preceding related CC projects by maximising opportunities for co-design in the project process and outputs, and by using existing networks and partnerships to identify needs and to deliver pathways to impact for a range of stakeholders and end-users. These pathways will be primarily through innovative public engagement activities with non-academic audiences, realised through two-way relationships with organisations. Separate pathways to academic impact will be delivered through the collaborative nature of the project.

Social impact:

A) Community Partners:
1. Windmill Hill City Farm (WHCF):
- engaging new users from both white and BAME communities
- developing new understandings of relationship between food and environment, for application in education work or in cafe
- develop ways of working with artists
2. Knowle West Health Park (KWHP) / Man Alive:
- new interactive and social activities for Man Alive
- new relationships with other partners (WHCF, HCW)
- broader applied knowledge about approaches to public health and eco citzenship
3. At-Bristol:
- new partnerships and forms of audience engagement
- extend learning from food / environment work with children to adults
- engaging new audiences
- innovative material and high-quality artistic events in planetarium
4. Healthy City Week:
- novel co-produced research project in programme
- new experimental art performance bringing new audience to HCW programme
- opportunity to connect project to new audiences and organisations in the city
5. Flexitarian Bristol:
- platform for publicity and dissemination
- opportunity to extend campaigning and behaviour change work with academic analysis
- public context for BEC methodology
6. The Matthew Tree Project and Edible Landscape Movement
- opportunity to revisit original Foodscapes research
- dissemination of toolkit shaping cookery classes or signposting of service-users around healthy eating and behaviour change.

B) Community Members:
1. Workshop participants:
- acquiring new skills and knowledge from each other
- actively reflecting on food practices and BEC
- forming relationships with other men outside of their immediate community, and considering their food habits in different contexts (e.g. gender, social and cultural traditions).
- over a more extended period of time than in Protein Pressures, extending pathways to impact through secondary engagement with peers and family members outside of the workshops.
- exploring understandings about gender and ecology, and overcoming barriers to inclusion in discourses and activities about environmental responsibility.
2. General Public:
- bringing together performance audience from individuals interested in art, food, health and environment
- inspiring conversations and action around food and environment, among men and among women
- present a positive story of co-produced research
- drawing on knowledge learnt from Hubbub, exploring the use of social media and / or pledge making around protein diversification.

Academic Impact:

A) University Partners
- knowledge exchange between PI, PDRA and advisory panel
- mentoring of PDRA (formerly an artist on CC projects) by PI
- production of a conference paper by PDRA
- co-authorship of a journal article by PI and PDRA

B) Academic Knowledge
- increase value of creative and arts-based methods in interdisciplinary research
- increase development of food-based participatory research
- create interdisciplinary knowledge about the relationship between masculine subjectivities, material food practices and ecological knowledges of non-human agency.


Lead researcher

Professor Emma Roe

Professor of More-Than-Human Geographies
Connect with Emma

Research outputs

Carol Morris, Minna Kaljonen, Kadri Aavik, Balint Balazs, Matthew Cole, Sophia Efstathiu, Ben Cole, Tracey Fallon, Mike Foden, Giraud Eva Haifa, Mike Goodman, Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, Richard Helliwell, Pru Hobson-West, Matti Hayry, Piia Jallinoja, Mat Jones, Taijja Kaarlesnkaski, Maarit Laihonen, Anu Lahteenmak-Uutela, Saara Kupsala, Annika Lonkila, Lydia Martens, Renelle McGlacken, Josephine Mylan, Mari Niva, Emma Roe, Richard Twine, Markus Vinnari & Richard White, 2021, Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 8(1)
Type: article
Paul Hurley & Emma Roe, 2018
Type: other
Joanna Young, Kip Johnson, Jamie McCarthy, Simon Clode, Paul Hurley & Emma Roe, 2017
Type: other
Tessa Tricks, Emma Roe, Stine Wilhelmsen & Paul Hurley, 2016
Type: workingPaper