Climate change and meat consumption: do consumers understand the connection?


Climate change and meat consumption: do consumers understand the connection?

23 April 2020
This study looks at what motivates people to change their diets and eating habits in response to the climate crisis, and whether or not consumers understand the connection.

Many people are unaware that food production, especially that of meat, is one of the largest contributors to climate change. The more meat demanded and consumed, especially that of cow meat (“beef”), the more we contribute to the problem of climate change as a species. An analogous contributor to climate change is the transportation sector, with that of carbon-emitting vehicles. If this problem is taken at face value, then the solutions we have been given include driving electric vehicles, taking public transit, or simply driving less.

Similarly, solutions for mitigating the contribution food production makes to climate change include eating less meat and incorporating more vegetables and alternative protein options into our diets. However, advocates know all too well that getting consensus on these simple solutions is difficult to achieve. A recent study by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explored what motivates consumers to respond or not respond to climate change; more specifically, they wanted to know what motivates consumers to change their diets and eating habits as a response to climate change.

Currently, the main way to motivate consumers to act on mitigating climate change is by appealing to the fear of an impending climate doomsday scenario. Therefore, the study presented participants with forecasts of what will occur if we globally continue business as usual including; how society, the participant, other species, and other people could be affected by climate change in the future. One prominent caveat and potential bias of study results is that the participants were residents of one of the wealthiest areas of Sweden, most being educated homeowners in their 50s.