Beef, Beans, or Byproducts?

Following Flexitarianism’s Finances


  • Kelsey Speakman York University



flexitarianism, Canadian supermarkets, Canadian beef, plant-based substitutes, meat shopping, ESG, financialization


Flexitarianism was one of the top food trends of the summer in 2020. Characterizing reductions in meat eating as representative of the reflections on personal and societal health that were taking place at the time, Canada’s largest food retailer, Loblaw situated the company’s expanded plant-based offerings as a response to a “new us” that was emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the protein pathways that Loblaw opens and closes by promoting “flexitarian choices for our changing lifestyles”. Focussing on reduced beef consumption as a target of flexitarian intervention, I situate flexitarianism in relation to calls for a “protein transition”, which would address the risks the dominant beef industry poses to animal, human, and planetary wellbeing. Drawing from a larger case study on beef shopping at Loblaw supermarkets, I consider the extent to which the version of flexitarianism on display at Loblaw supermarkets might support the status quo in the dominant beef industry. As a flexible framework, flexitarianism holds potential to respond contextually to the needs of varying food networks in Canada. As a defined consumer demographic, however, flexitarianism is poised to reroute this flexibility away from diverse food systems toward adaptable investments, which would insulate financial portfolios from the risks of intensive animal agriculture without requiring meaningful changes within those industries.




How to Cite

Speakman, K. (2024). Beef, Beans, or Byproducts? Following Flexitarianism’s Finances. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 11(1), 91–110.