Exploring the role of social norms in contributing to sustainable reduced meat food choices, offline and on social media

The project

The production of meat and other animal products are among the leading causes of almost every category of environmental damage. These damages include: 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. This is especially true in the wealthy West.

My research seeks ways to encourage reduced meat consumption. To do this, I will examine the role of social norms in eating behaviour. These social norms are unwritten rules about how we are expected to behave in a particular social group or culture. Other pro-environmental behaviours, like recycling and lower energy use, have been found to be influenced by social norms. But can they do the same to encourage reduced meat consumption?

Social media

You can find Vibhuti on Twitter: https://twitter.com/evergreen_v_

And check out her website: www.vpatel.co.nz


Vibhuti Patel, Nicola J. Buckland, Perceptions about meat reducers: Results from two UK studies exploring personality impressions and perceived group membership, Food Quality and Preference, Volume 93, 2021, 104289, ISSN 0950-3293,

Larner , E., Fish , A., Way, C., Muir , K., Graham , F., Armstrong , B., Patel , V., Knight , D., Jourdain , R., Allen , T., Armstrong , I., Collister , J., Barnett , O., & Reynolds, C. (2021). Reaction to a low-carbon footprint food logo and other sustainable diet promotions in a UK University’s Student Union ‘Living Lab’. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society, 9(1). Retrieved from https://www.thefutureoffoodjournal.com/index.php/FOFJ/article/view/321

Patel V. (2020) Ethics of Food Production and Consumption. In: Leal Filho W., Azul A., Brandli L., Özuyar P., Wall T. (eds) Zero Hunger. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69626-3_16-1


Professor Helen Kennedy

Department of Sociological Studies