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Psychology, Sustainability, Uncategorized

What would make you choose a meat alternative?

In the past two years I have mostly switched to being a weekday vegetarian. I was able to do this largely because I also switched to using meal kits. The reason these two go together is that I didn’t have to do a ton of research to find tasty vegetarian recipes. So that’s the how I did it. The why is the more interesting question.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts you’ll know that I am passionate about sustainability. I have wanted to switch to a primarily vegetarian diet for quite a while on the basis of both environmental and ethical reasons. The land and water required to maintain the number of animals for meat based diets, as well as the impact of the animals themselves, can be devastating for local biodiversity, climate change, and water use. The environmental costs though are complex. I live in Alberta and there are a number of fruits and vegetables that I could buy in my local grocery store that would have a much greater impact compared to a locally raised, small farm chicken. A podcast episode from the University of Alberta that doesn’t seem to be available anymore once examined several different diet mixes and found that for Alberta 80% plant based diet has the smallest impact in Alberta based on typical eating patterns.

Ethical considerations for the animals also come into play. I’m not going to get into all the details on the care of animals in agriculture but needless to say I think that all animals, whether they will be eaten or not, should be able to live their lives they have in natural ways. Things like free range, appropriate food and habitat should all be prioritized. There’s some really interesting work happening with things like rewilding that I think hold a lot of promise. But for the present, eating less meat and (because I have the privilege to afford it) choosing ethical companies and meats for those I do eat seems like the best way to go.

Okay, those are my reasons but do they match the reasons others choose to go vegetarian? Well, at least in 2017 when Marcus, Klunk-Lehmann, and Hartmann (2022), people are much more likely to cite ethical and even health reasons for choosing vegetarian options than environmental ones. The reason the date of the data collection is important is, as the authors describe, a lot has happened in the world since 2017. A number of events, particularly the youth led climate movement has increased awareness of the climate crisis, of course the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused significant distraction. So there may have been changes in these perspectives since the research was completed.

Why is this relevant? Sadly, it comes down to marketing. If we need to decrease the amount of meat we consume in our societies, then we need to market vegetarian and vegan diets in ways that attract more people. If we know the reasons why people choose vegetarian diets we can use that to promote these diets.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


2 thoughts on “What would make you choose a meat alternative?

  1. Great article! I live in a near vegan household that has dramatically reduced our milk, eggs, and cheese consumption over the green years. We don’t miss it at all. Speaking only for myself: going meatless first because I didn’t like handling raw meat, then ecological reasons, health benefits, lastly but not least avoidance of industrial farming practices.

    I took an anthropology class many decades ago by Sidney Mintz on food in which he theorized that traditional cultures really get almost all there caloric intake from grains, greens and vegetables for nutrients, and very small amounts of animal protein for flavor. If I recall Jared Diamond has a similar theory. Effectively the anti-paleo diet.

    Keep up the good writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    Posted by omarhopkins | May 4, 2022, 7:45 pm
    • Thanks for the comment. I can totally agree on handling raw meat as an initial trigger, I hadn’t even thought of that but I agree.
      It might be interesting to look at different traditional cultures from different locations and see if there are patterns.


      Posted by Tai Munro | May 4, 2022, 10:12 pm

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