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Reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries to counter climate change and biodiversity loss: a review of influence factors

FCRN members Prof. Dr. Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Uta Schmidt (MSc.) have brought our attention to their recent article on reducing meat consumption.

They reviewed 155 articles about the barriers, opportunities and steps that need to be taken in order to encourage the consumption of less meat in developed countries, based on an interdisciplinary and multi-factor approach. The evidence is gathered from a systematic meta-analysis of factors (including personal, sociocultural and external factors) that influence individual meat-eating behaviour. Focusing mainly on the barriers to reducing meat consumption, they also found some opportunities arising from these barriers.

The authors identified 11 factors that other journal articles present as playing a role in maintaining high levels of meat consumption in developed countries. Of these 11 factors, a low priority of values and attitudes around sustainability was the most common, followed by the normative behaviour of meat-favouring peers. Fewer studies identified external factors such as low prices of animal products or a lack of available alternatives to meat. However, this is not to say that these factors are necessarily less important; this meta-analysis primarily provides an insight into what researchers regard as important factors to examine with regard to meat consumption.

The authors have created a visual model of factors that influence meat-eating behaviour based on the model of pro-environmental behaviour developed in Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002) -  see below:

 

 

Abstract

A dietary shift towards reduced meat consumption is an efficient strategy for countering biodiversity loss and climate change in regions (developed and transition countries) where consumption is already at a very high level or is rapidly expanding (such as China). Biodiversity is being degraded and lost to a considerable extent, with 70 % of the world’s deforestation a result of stripping in order to grow animal feed. Furthermore, about 14.5 % of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are calculated to be the result of (mainly industrial) livestock farming. The research reviewed here focuses on the feasibility of reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries, as this would—among other positive effects—reduce the global loss of biodiversity, the need for unsustainable agricultural practices and GHG emissions. This article reviews the barriers, opportunities and steps that need to be taken in order to encourage the consumption of less meat, based on an interdisciplinary and multifactor approach. The evidence is gathered from a systematic meta-analysis of factors (including personal, sociocultural and external factors) that influence individual meat-eating behaviour. The most relevant factors that influence behaviour appear to be emotions and cognitive dissonance (between knowledge, conflicting values and actual behaviour) and sociocultural factors (e.g. social norms or social identity). For different factors and groups of people, different strategies are appropriate. For example, for men and older people deploying the health argument or arguing for flexitarianism (reduced meat consumption) may prove the most promising approaches, while providing emotional messages or promoting new social norms is recommended in order to address barriers such as cognitive dissonance.

 

Reference

Stoll-Kleemann S, Schmidt UJ (2016) Reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries to counter climate change and biodiversity loss: a review of influence factors. Regional Environmental Change 00: 1-17. doi: 10.1007/s10113-016-1057-5.

You can find the article here

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Publication
17 Nov 2016
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Photo credit: Alex, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
Photo credit: Alex, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
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