TRS.20.047 – Grilling Gender. Understanding and Transforming Food Practices by Focusing on Meaning Making

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 070 Why do we do what we do, are we who we think we are, and what factors influence our behaviour? In other words, how can we understand our behaviour?

The man at his BBQ is an archetypical image of masculinity. Eating and preparing certain foodstuffs in a certain manner is a way of shaping one’s life and giving meaning to it. This takes place in gendered ways and with substantial consequences for the people involved and the environment. This project focuses on gendered meaning making and consumption in relation to meat and vegetables, key foodstuffs in contemporary global food challenges and major topics in discourses about the transition towards sustainable forms of food production and consumption.
Innovatively, the project brings together expertise in the fields of meaning making in contemporary society, gender studies, the sociology of food, food ethics, health sciences, operations research and logistics management, animal ethics and heritage studies, while cooperating closely with partners out of the field of food industry.
The key question that the project addresses is: ‘How and with which consequences do constructions of gender and meat-based and plant-based diets intersect and which potential for transformation does such insight enable?’ The specific case that will be analyzed is gendered BBQ culture, as a clear example as to how masculinity and femininity, food, and (ritualized) meaning making cohere, in a manner that is directly related to foodstuffs related to the desired transformation of consumption in the light of a societal drive for sustainable development.
Methodologically, the project applies both qualitative and quantitative methods, combining interviews with grilling men and women and the groups of which they are part, the analysis of grilling practices from a ritual perspective with research into the construction of the image of the meat grilling man, and analysis of the health consequences of BBQ culture as well as its social sustainability. The project is conducted in a co-creative manner with partners from the food industry and other societal stakeholders.


barbecue case study, gendered foodstuffs, improving health, ritualized food consumption, sustainable food systems

Other organisations

CHE, Utrecht University (UU), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), WUR


Organisation Protestant Theological University
Name Dr. M.C.M. Klomp