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Meat consumption and climate change: The role of non-governmental organisations

This study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examines the approaches taken by NGOs in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden to encourage consumers to reduce their meat consumption in light of climate change.

The study looked at the level of engagement of the NGOs and the content of their public education and policy efforts. It found that while most NGOs acknowledged the issue and made some mention of meat consumption and climate change on their websites, relatively few groups had established dedicated public education or policy advocacy campaigns on the issue. The study also highlights the fact that consumers currently receive mixed messages with regard to the quantity and types of meat that are appropriate for them to consume given climate change and other environmental concerns


The contribution of livestock production to climate change is now widely acknowledged. Despite this, efforts to reduce meat consumption in light of climate change have been relatively limited. One potential avenue for encouraging consumption changes is via non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This study used a qualitative approach to understand how and to what extent environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden have worked to reduce or alter domestic meat consumption in light of climate change. While almost all of the NGOs examined had mentioned the issue on their websites, few had established formal campaigns to reduce meat consumption. Active public outreach was dominated by animal protection and food-focused groups, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Animal protection organizations advocated for larger reductions in meat consumption than environmental groups. Few NGOs sought to promote national-level polices to reduce meat consumption. There is a continued need for public education campaigns with clear messages, particularly by environmental NGOs, as well as efforts to build support for policy measures that seek to reduce meat consumption. 

You can access the paper here (subscription needed).

Note – this article is timely in the context of the launch of the Eating Better campaign – an initiative that brings together a range of UK NGOs to focus on the impacts of meat consumption on human wellbeing and the planet. The FCRN has interviewed the Eating Better campaign’s coordinator, Sue Dibb – you can read this interview here.

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