The production of meat and other animal products is among the leading causes of almost every category of environmental damage threatening our future; habitat loss, aquatic and marine pollution, water scarcity, climate change, and species extinction. In fact, there is scientific consensus that the 2°C climate target will be impossible to meet without a global shift towards a more plant-based diet. Despite this, meat intake continues to rise and is a valued meal staple – especially in the wealthy West.
My research seeks ways to encourage reduced meat consumption by looking at the role of social norms in eating behaviour. Social norms are unwritten rules about how we are expected to behave in a particular social group or culture. They have been found to play a significant role in endorsing other pro-environmental behaviours, like recycling and lower energy use. Can they do the same to encourage reduced meat consumption?