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Responding to food, environment and health challenges by changing meat consumption behaviours in consumers

Stubbs, R. J., Scott, S. E. and Duarte, Cristiana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6566-273X (2018) Responding to food, environment and health challenges by changing meat consumption behaviours in consumers. Nutrition Bulletin, 43 (2). pp. 125-134.

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Current meat consumption levels impact environment and health, highlighting a need to reduce meat consumption and increase that of plant-based alternative proteins. There appears to be a lack of awareness amongst consumers as to how meat consumption affects health and climate change, which is likely to undermine intention to change. Of those who intend to change, many do not translate that intention to reduce meat consumption into behaviour change. Consumers appear open to the notion of reducing meat consumption but lack the knowledge, motivation or capability to make such changes. For many, meat eating is a traditional social practice, re-enforced by economics, ecological, technological and institutional factors, including media and marketing. Many food choices are not logical reasoned actions but subconscious, automatic, rapid decisions, relying on heuristic processing and heavily influenced by contextual cues. Promising targets for changing individual consumption patterns could focus on closing the awareness-intention and intention-behaviour gaps. Modifying contextual determinants of food choice, highlighting personally relevant internal motivators related to individual requirements, and aligning such messages with positive re-enforcement about animal welfare and environment would close the awareness-intention gap. A framework of reference for a healthy, sustainable diet, improvements in the range, sensory attributes, convenience and ease of use of meat substitutes, reduction in the meat portion components of ready meals (by substitution with other foods), reformulation of processed products to include a greater proportion of non-meat proteins, economic incentives and emphasis on the benefits to environment and animal welfare could reduce the intention-behaviour gap. Better alignment of environmental and health messages would concentrate public health messages and effort to create a market environment that facilitates sustainable food choices to produce moderate population level wide-scale changes in plant protein consumption, with significant impact on health and environmental outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12318
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5979

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