Controversy surrounds research reports that promote reduced meat consumption in Norway. By studying these controversies in the media, we ask why meat reduction is polarised seemingly between environmental and agricultural, urban and rural voices. We show how a ‘conventional’ definition of meat reduction in a self-regulating market tends to disconnect consumption habits from agricultural policies. The result is a paradox: Norwegians are urged to eat less meat, but farmers must produce more to stay afloat. In this conventional frame, meat reduction is seen by rural and farmer voices as a further exaggeration of agricultural decline, depopulation and centralisation. To unravel this controversy, we contrast this with a critical ‘post-productivist’ view of conventional agriculture and volume-centred farm subsidies since the 1950s. We show how a different, more interactive understanding of consumption as interrelated with Norwegian food policies, production and distribution emerges, highlighting a path through the controversy. By reimagining a change from subsidies for production volume to production methods, climate, health, environmental and rural issues are brought into conversation with each other. While largely remaining a marginal voice in a heavily polarised debate, we show how alternative notions of meat reduction can help us move past meat reduction controversies. The article stresses that the two concepts of meat reduction are characterised by distinct notions of consumption, suggesting that the popular understanding of what consumption is can be a barrier to, or a part of, a meat-reduced future.