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

Grantham Scholar Vibhuti Patel’s research explores ways to encourage reduced meat consumption by looking at the role of social norms in eating behaviour.

The project

Current rates of meat production and consumption are a leading cause of multiple environmental and social problems, including habitat loss, water scarcity, global hunger, species extinction, chronic disease, and climate change. However, meat eating is an entrenched social norm in many western countries, and shifting diets to incorporate more plant-based foods is challenging.

My research seeks to encourage reduced meat consumption. To do this, I explore what it means for a behaviour to be “normal” through psychological and sociological lenses. Reduced meat diets (vegetarianism, veganism, flexitarianism) are becoming increasingly popular, and may constitute a shifting norm here in the UK. The primary aim of my research is to investigate whether these shifting social norms may influence others to reduce their meat intake in food choice “nudge” interventions.

My background is in ecology, and my other research interests include environmental worldviews, environmental communication and education, ethics, and human-animal relations.

Social media

You can find Vibhuti on Twitter.

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

Vibhuti Patel’s publications

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