|dc.description.abstract||The focus of this thesis was to better understand meat consumption and investigate how a shift to more plant-based diets may best be promoted. The various environmental impacts linked to animal agriculture were explored and a movement towards more plant-based diets was found as a solution that could alleviate environmental impacts, along with the added benefit of improving public health and helping to safeguard future food security. Shifting a behaviour that is as prevalent as meat consumption is no easy task however, as high rates of meat intake have become normalised in many developed nations, being influenced not only by the desires of individual actors’, but also structures within society that encourage continued production and consumption. Potential economic, regulatory, and informational measures to encourage meat reduction were explored and after weighing multiple factors, the potential for information provision to shift consumer meat intake held promise. However, before further inquiry into potential information provision measures, it was advisable to first obtain a more thorough understanding of consumers’ meat consumption within the relatively understudied nation of New Zealand.
Thus, the first study of the thesis sought to better understand New Zealand consumers’ meat intake through the distribution of a nationwide questionnaire. Awareness of meat’s environmental impacts was determined to be low and the most common motivations for reducing meat were considerations of cost and health. Attitudes and attachment to meat were found to be strong predictors of willingness and intentions to reduce personal meat intake, as well as agreement with structural measures aiming to reduce meat consumption at a broader scale (e.g. environmental meat tax).
With a more thorough understanding of New Zealand consumers, the second study of the thesis sought to test different forms of information provision (in the form of documentary films) through the use of questionnaires previously validated in the first study in order to determine the effectiveness of different informational framings. Exposure to a film about meat’s impacts on personal health, environmental sustainability, or animal welfare all increased intentions to curb meat intake, while reducing self-reported meat intake frequencies and positive attitudes and attachment towards meat. Animal welfare information was most effective at reducing positive attitudes and attachment towards meat, health information was particularly effective at reducing perceived dependence on meat, and environmental information showed the greatest declines in self-reported meat intake frequencies. All three informational frames were found to increase agreement with proposed meat-reduction structural measures.
Findings from this thesis have implications for future studies and/or interventions seeking to understand or promote meat reduction, as it provides a clearer understanding of New Zealand consumers’ meat intake, adds validation to tools that can be useful in the study of meat consumption, and confirms that information provision can be an effective method for promoting reduced-meat diets. This thesis adds to the growing body of literature on meat consumption and its potential reduction in efforts to promote environmental sustainability and public health, offering insightful and practical information to both researchers and practitioners. ||