Reducing meat and dairy consumption: A cultural change approach

Common Ground
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 2011, 7 (2), pp. 223 - 234
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Research shows that livestock account for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and global consumption of livestock products is growing rapidly. A variety of authors have previously examined the environmental benefits associated with diets lower in animal products and emphasised the importance of reducing meat and dairy consumption. Support for the health benefits of diets centred on plant-based foods is also widely available. Despite the importance of dietary change, there has been limited research that could inform strategies for changing patterns and cultures of meat and dairy consumption in favour of plant-based diets. The values, beliefs and attitudes that shape the way people behave must be considered when designing behaviour change initiatives, including initiatives aimed at reducing meat and dairy consumption. This paper explores research on the cultural meanings of meat and dairy, and suggests a cultural change approach to dietary consumption change. Such an approach might complement economic, institutional and technological approaches that are already being explored by governments and researchers. The paper suggests areas for further research needed to inform such an approach. Suggestions for possible intervention strategies are offered.
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