Motivations to decrease meat consumption

Unsustainable, unhealthy, or disgusting?

Meat is a key ingredient in the main meal for many cultures around the world. However, problems on a world scale such as global warming and public health raise questions about the consequences of current meat consumption patterns. What is the effectiveness of persuasive messages to decrease meat consumption?

Current per capita annual meat consumption averages about 38 kg globally, and annual consumption in highly meat-cultured countries such as Uruguay, Cyprus, and the United States is three times higher. Excessive meat consumption is associated with a range of environmental problems and health problems.

In this investigation, we examined the effectiveness of three types of persuasive messages posited to affect attitudes toward meat consumption. The first two messages contained health and environment-related appeals (e.g., the moral consequences of environmental degradation and animal welfare), which are commonly used in campaigns aimed at meat reduction.

A third kind of message – one that is less frequently applied in meat-consumption campaigns – follows from research suggesting that meat aversions are acquired via the emotion disgust. Results across three studies suggest that disgust-oriented persuasive messages are more effective than health-oriented messages, and they are at least as effective as moral (i.e., animal welfare) messages in influencing meat attitudes. The practical implications for campaigns to reduce meat consumption are discussed.

About the speaker

Gonzalo Palomo Vélez is a PhD student at the Experimental and Applied Psychology department of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He completed his bachelor and master’s degree in social psychology at the University of Talca (Chile). After that, he came to The Netherlands to pursuit a PhD on the evolutionary and social roots of people’s environmental behavior.

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