Knowledge for better food systems

Paper: attitudes to reducing meat consumption

This paper addresses the relationship between meat eating and climate change focusing on motivational explanations of environmentally-relevant consumer behavior. Based on a sample of 1083 Dutch consumers, it examines their responses to the idea that they can make a big difference to nature and climate protection by choosing one or more meals without meat every week.

This idea can be seen as a new opportunity to help mitigation, but also as a counterproductive message that might trigger negative responses among consumers who are skeptical about climate change. As hypothesized, the meat-free meal idea was received more positively by consumers who valued care for nature and more negatively by those who did not value it. Also as hypothesized, the meat-free meal idea was received more negatively by consumers who were skeptical about the seriousness of climate change. The idea was not received more positively by those who did take it seriously. The results support the notion that the meat-free meal idea may serve as a counterproductive message. From the perspective of motivation, it is preferable not to isolate the meat-climate issue but to develop an approach that combines multiple values regarding food choices, including health and nature-related values.

De Boer J, Schösler H and Boersema J J (2013). Climate change and meat eating: An inconvenient couple? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 33, 1-8

You can access the paper here (subscription needed).

For more in the FCRN library on consumption and behaviour see here.

If anyone knows of other studies looking at attitudes to meat (and dairy) consumption, or assessing the effectiveness of interventions seeking to influence them (either for environmental or other reasons), do please let me know – you can contact Tara here.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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