Veganism 2.0: Gastromania, nutrition, and digital communication

  • Simona Stano University of Turin and New York University
Keywords: veganism, gastromania, digital communication, social media, semiotics

Abstract

The vegan population has risen significantly over the past decade, and is expected to continue increasing. Social media are believed to have played a major role in such a rise. According to a Google study (2018), veganism started to spread markedly in 2012, the same year that Instagram became popular, and has then grown in correlation with the expansion of the social network (with over 88 million #vegan posts out of a billion monthly active users and more than 500 million people using the platform daily today). Since 2016 conversations around veganism have increased also on Twitter, reaching nearly 20 million Tweets in 2018 and registering a further growth of 70% in 2019. Moreover, the number of Google searches for veganism has spiked from a popularity rating of just 17 out of 100 in 2008 to 88 in 2018. Functioning both as platforms for sharing and commenting on information and as effective channels for proselytizing, these and other social media have evidently extended the boundaries of the vegan movement, making it become one of the biggest contemporary food trends. This paper aims at identifying and describing the main cultural transformations and forms of life promoted by “veganism 2.0”, based on a semiotic approach particularly attentive to the analysis of the narrative level and the patemic dimension. To this purpose, the intersections between the so-called “gastromania” and other trends characterising contemporary foodspheres, such as “gastro-anomy” and the “ideology of nutritionism” are taken into account, paying particular attention to the gastronomic discourse in present-day digital mediascapes and the complex dynamics characterising them.

References

Ashley, B., J. Hollows, S. Jones and B. Taylor. 2004. Food and Cultural Studies. London & New York: Routledge.

Baker, S. A., M. J. Walsh. 2020. You Are What You Instagram: Clean Eating and the Symbolic Representation of Food. In Lupton, D., Z. Feldman. (eds.). Digital food cultures. London: Routledge, 53–60.

Bankov, K. 2021. “Face and Trust: A Semiotic Inquiry into Influencers, Money, and Amygdala”. Sign Systems Studies, Vol. 50 (in press).

Barthes, R. 1973. Le plaisir du texte. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Barthes, R. 1981 [1980]. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang.

Beer, D. 2013. Popular Culture and New Media: The Politics of Circulation. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Beer, D., R. Burrows. 2010. Consumption, Prosumption and Participatory Web Cultures: An Introduction. Journal of Consumer Culture, Vol. 10, Issue 1, 3–12.

Coward, R. 1984. Female Desire. London: Paladin.

Durkheim, É. 1897. Le suicide: étude de sociologie. Paris: F. Alcan.

Ferraro, G. 1998. Il mercato dei desideri. In Ferraro, G. (a cura). L’emporio dei segni. Rome: Meltemi, 9–40.

Finocchi, R. (ed.) 2015. Strategie dell’ironia nel web – Carte semiotiche. Annali 3. Lucca: VoLo Publisher.

Fischler, C. 1979. “Gastro-nomie et gastro-anomie”. Communications, Vol. 31, 189–210.

Floch, J.-M. 1990. Sémiotique, marketing et communication. Sous les signes, les strategies. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

Freberga, K., K. Grahamb, K. McGaugheyc and L. A. Freberg. 2011. “Who Are the Social Media Influencers? A Study of Public Perceptions of Personality”. Public Relations Review, Vol. 37, Issue 1, 90–92.

Friedlander, J., C. Riedy. 2018. “Celebrities, Credibility, and Complementary Frames: Raising the Agenda of Sustainable and Other ‘Inconvenient’ Food Issues in Social Media Campaigning”. Communication Research and Practice, Vol. 4, Issue 3, 229–245.

Greimas, A. J., J. Fontanille. 1991. Sémiotique des passions: Des états de choses aux états d’âme. Paris: Seuil.

Greimas, A. J., J. Courtés (eds.). 1979. Sémiotique. Dictionnaire raisonné de la théorie du langage. Paris: Hachette.

Highfield, T., T. Leaver. 2016. “Instagrammatics and Digital Methods: Studying Visual Social Media, from Selfies and GIFs to Memes and Emoji”. Communication Research and Practice, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 47–62.

Lee Kaid, L., C. Holtz-Bacha. 2008. “Agenda Melding”. Encyclopedia of Political Communication, 11–12. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Leitzmann, C. 2014. “Vegetarian Nutrition. Past, Present, Future”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 100, 496S–502S.

Leone, M. 2019. Semiotica del cibo comico: sul senso dell’ilarità alimentare. In Politiche della cucina: Discorsi, conflitti, culture. E/C. Rivista dell’Associazione Italiana di Studi Semiotici, Anno XIII, n. 27. Available at: http://www.ec-aiss.it/archivio/tipologico/autore.php (accessed 5 April 2020).

Lévi-Strauss, C. 1962. Le totémisme aujourd’hui. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

Lupton, D. 2018. Cooking, Eating, Uploading: Digital Food Cultures. In LeBesco, K., P. Naccarato (eds.). The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 66–79.

Marrone, G. 2011. Addio alla Natura. Turin: Einaudi.

Marrone, G. 2014a. Buono da pensare. Rome: Carocci.

Marrone, G. 2014b. Gastromania. Milan: Bompiani.

Marrone, G. 2015a. “Food Porn”. Doppiozero. Available at: https://www.doppiozero.com/materiali/critica-del-gusto/food-porn (accessed 30 March 2020).

Marrone, G. 2015b. Semiotica del gusto. Linguaggi della cucina, del cibo,della tavola. Milan-Udine: Mimesis.

Marrone, G. 2019. Dopo la cena allo stesso modo. Dieci anni di immaginario gastronomico. Palermo: Torri del vento Edizioni.

Martinelli, D. 2015. The Naïve, the Eccentric and the Maniac: On the Filmic Representation of Vegetarians. In Lexia. Rivista di semiotica, 19–20, 283–297.

Martinelli, D., A. Berkmanienė. 2018. “The Politics and the Demographics of Veganism: Notes for a Critical Analysis”. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Vol. 31, No. 3, 501–530.

McCartney, M. 2016. “Clean Eating and the Cult of Healthism”. British Medical Journal, 354: i4095.

McCombs, M., A. Reynolds. 2002. News Influence on Our Pictures of the World. In Bryant, J., D. Zillmann (eds.). Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. 2nd ed. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1–18.

McDonnell, E. M. 2016. Food Porn: The Conspicuous Consumption of Food in the Age of Digital Reproduction. In Bradley, P. (ed.). Food, Media and Contemporary Culture: The Edible Image. Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 239–265.

Ragas, M., M. Roberts. 2009. “Agenda Setting and Agenda Melding in an Age of Horizontal and Vertical Media: A New Theoretical Lens for Virtual Brand Communities”. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 86, Issue 1, 45–64.

Rosewarne, L. 2013. The Vegetarian Chapter: Introducing the Hippies, Sad Sacks, and Fundamentalists. In Id., American Taboo: The Forbidden Words, Unspoken Rules, and Secret Morality of Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 87–114.

Rousseau, S. 2012. Food and Social Media: You Are What You Tweet. Lanham, Maryland: Altamira Press/Rowman and Littlefield.

Russo Cardona, T. 2009. Le peripezie dell’ironia. Sull’arte del rovesciamento del discorso. Rome: Meltemi.

Schouten, A. P., L. Janssen, M. Verspaget. 2019. “Celebrity vs. Influencer Endorsements in Advertising: The Role of Identification, Credibility, and Product-Endorser Fit”. International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 39, Issue 2, 258–281.

Scrinis, G. 2008. “On the Ideology of Nutritionism”. Gastronomica, Vol. 8, No. 1, 39–48.

Shaw, D. L., M. McCombs, D. H. Weaver, B. J. Hamm. 1999. “Individuals, Groups, and Agenda Melding: A Theory of Social Dissonance”. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2–24.

Stano, S. 2015. Il crudo, il cotto e l’autentico: il cibo tra natura e naturalizzazione. In Ferraro, G., A. Giannitrapani, G. Marrone, S. Traini (a cura). Dire la natura. Ambiente e significazione. Rome: Aracne, 421–428.

Stano, S. 2017. “L’alimentazione tra natura e naturalismi: riflessioni semiotiche sulla dieta mediterranea”. CoSMo, Vol. 10, 33–50.

Stano, S. 2018. I sensi del cibo. Elementi di semiotica dell’alimentazione. Rome: Aracne.

Stepaniak, J. 2000. The Vegan Sourcebook. New York: McGraw Hill Professional.

Tafesse, W., B. P. Wood. 2020. “Followers’ Engagement with Instagram Influencers: The Role of Influencers’ Content and Engagement Strategy”. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 58, 1–9.

Vincent, L. 2002. Legendary Brands: Unleash the Power of Storytelling to Create a Winning Marketing Strategy. Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing.

Published
2021-11-19
How to Cite
Stano, S. (2021). Veganism 2.0: Gastromania, nutrition, and digital communication. Digital Age in Semiotics & Communication, 4, 12-30. https://doi.org/10.33919/dasc.20-21.3-4.2