Rainforest, Reef, and our Appetite for Beef: Communication for Sustainable Behaviour Change
Meat production, and the current rate of consumption, is one of the leading causes of tropical deforestation, freshwater degradation, ocean dead zones, and wild species extinction. The livestock sector is also a major driver of global climate change, such that meeting the 2°C climate objective will be impossible to achieve without a global shift towards a plant-based diet. Despite its gravity, the environmental impact of the meat industry is severely underrepresented in policy and communication, which has resulted in a widespread public awareness gap. The present research sought to assess whether closing this awareness gap had the potential to induce attitudinal and behavioural dietary change. In a controlled experiment, an online survey presenting an environmentally-framed essay about animal agriculture was administered to North American participants. Participants answered a series of questions assessing their response to the information. The results indicate that the environment frame, as applied to animal agriculture, was both new and valuable to most participants, with many expressing increased concern. Over half of the participants also experienced a change in dietary choice after reading the essay. These findings suggest that closing the public awareness gap, by using the environment frame to disseminate information, is an effective means of promoting dietary change.
Advisor: Bering, Jesse
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Meat; environment; climate change; communication; food attitudes; consumer behaviour; meat; environment; climate change; food attitudes; consumer behaviour; sustainability; pollution; extinction; environmental psychology; science communication
Research Type: Thesis