The Vegan Food Experience: Searching for Happiness in the Norwegian Foodscape
The purpose of this study was to go beyond an oversimplified representation of the vegan food experience and approach the investigation of such experience, in particular of happiness deriving from food choices, including factors at the macro and micro level. Broadening the concept of foodscape to emphasize the experiential aspect of food, this study explored how the vegan food experience can be described as a situated story about vegans searching for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Veganism in a Norwegian context was investigated through analysis of various secondary and primary data sources, including newspapers, social media, websites, interviews, and observation. The findings suggested that the story framing the vegan food experience is characterized by a fundamental lack of interest and knowledge about plant-based food and veganism at the macro level. At the micro level, the story concerns vegans experiencing sensuous gratification, enjoyment, conviviality, and meaningfulness in limited groups, but also isolation and frustration. This study contributes to an approach to vegan food experiences that takes into consideration contextual factors, as well as relevant well-being related emotions at the individual level. From a practical point of view, this study provides an opportunity, in particular for government bodies, to improve information about the potential benefits and challenges of plant-based diets and confront possible discriminatory attitudes towards vegans.