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Eating like there's no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet.

Abstract

Reducing meat consumption is central to many of the scientific debates on healthy, sustainable diets because of the high environmental impact of meat production. Missing from these debates are the public perspectives about eating less meat and consideration of cultural and social values associated with meat. The aim of this study was to explore public awareness of the environmental impact of food and their willingness to reduce meat consumption. Twelve focus groups and four individual interviews were conducted with adults from a range of socio-economic groups living in both rural and urban settings in Scotland. Public understanding of the link between food, environment and climate change was explored, with a focus on meat and attitudes towards reducing meat consumption. Data were transcribed and analysed thematically. Three dominant themes emerged: a lack of awareness of the association between meat consumption and climate change, perceptions of personal meat consumption playing a minimal role in the global context of climate change, and resistance to the idea of reducing personal meat consumption. People associated eating meat with pleasure, and described social, personal and cultural values around eating meat. Some people felt they did not need to eat less meat because they had already reduced their consumption or that they only ate small quantities. Scepticism of scientific evidence linking meat and climate change was common. Changing non-food related behaviours was viewed as more acceptable and a greater priority for climate change mitigation. The study highlights the role meat plays in the diet for many people, beyond nutritional needs. If healthy, sustainable dietary habits are to be achieved, cultural, social and personal values around eating meat must be integrated into the development of future dietary recommendations.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Public Health Nutrition Research Group, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK. Electronic address: j.macdiarmid@abdn.ac.uk.

    ,

    Public Health Nutrition Research Group, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.

    Public Health Nutrition Research Group, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.

    Source

    Appetite 96: 2016 Jan 01 pg 487-493

    MeSH

    Adult
    Awareness
    Choice Behavior
    Climate Change
    Conservation of Natural Resources
    Diet
    Eating
    Environment
    Female
    Focus Groups
    Food Preferences
    Humans
    Male
    Meat
    Middle Aged
    Scotland
    Socioeconomic Factors
    Young Adult

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    26476397

    Citation

    Macdiarmid, Jennie I., et al. "Eating Like There's No Tomorrow: Public Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Food and Reluctance to Eat Less Meat as Part of a Sustainable Diet." Appetite, vol. 96, 2016, pp. 487-493.
    Macdiarmid JI, Douglas F, Campbell J. Eating like there's no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet. Appetite. 2016;96:487-493.
    Macdiarmid, J. I., Douglas, F., & Campbell, J. (2016). Eating like there's no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet. Appetite, 96, pp. 487-493. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.10.011.
    Macdiarmid JI, Douglas F, Campbell J. Eating Like There's No Tomorrow: Public Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Food and Reluctance to Eat Less Meat as Part of a Sustainable Diet. Appetite. 2016 Jan 1;96:487-493. PubMed PMID: 26476397.
    * Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
    TY - JOUR T1 - Eating like there's no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet. AU - Macdiarmid,Jennie I, AU - Douglas,Flora, AU - Campbell,Jonina, Y1 - 2015/10/23/ PY - 2015/04/27/received PY - 2015/09/16/revised PY - 2015/10/09/accepted PY - 2015/10/18/entrez PY - 2015/10/18/pubmed PY - 2016/10/8/medline KW - Attitudes KW - Climate change KW - Culture KW - Focus groups KW - Meat KW - Sustainable diets SP - 487 EP - 493 JF - Appetite JO - Appetite VL - 96 N2 - Reducing meat consumption is central to many of the scientific debates on healthy, sustainable diets because of the high environmental impact of meat production. Missing from these debates are the public perspectives about eating less meat and consideration of cultural and social values associated with meat. The aim of this study was to explore public awareness of the environmental impact of food and their willingness to reduce meat consumption. Twelve focus groups and four individual interviews were conducted with adults from a range of socio-economic groups living in both rural and urban settings in Scotland. Public understanding of the link between food, environment and climate change was explored, with a focus on meat and attitudes towards reducing meat consumption. Data were transcribed and analysed thematically. Three dominant themes emerged: a lack of awareness of the association between meat consumption and climate change, perceptions of personal meat consumption playing a minimal role in the global context of climate change, and resistance to the idea of reducing personal meat consumption. People associated eating meat with pleasure, and described social, personal and cultural values around eating meat. Some people felt they did not need to eat less meat because they had already reduced their consumption or that they only ate small quantities. Scepticism of scientific evidence linking meat and climate change was common. Changing non-food related behaviours was viewed as more acceptable and a greater priority for climate change mitigation. The study highlights the role meat plays in the diet for many people, beyond nutritional needs. If healthy, sustainable dietary habits are to be achieved, cultural, social and personal values around eating meat must be integrated into the development of future dietary recommendations. SN - 1095-8304 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/26476397/Eating_like_there's_no_tomorrow:_Public_awareness_of_the_environmental_impact_of_food_and_reluctance_to_eat_less_meat_as_part_of_a_sustainable_diet_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0195-6663(15)30062-3 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -