Behavioural interventions to reduce meat consumption
4 February 2019
Filippo Bianchi, DPhil student at the University of Oxford and LEAP collaborator, and the Health Behaviours Research Team, based in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, recently completed a behavioural intervention study to support people to eat less meat.
Filippo worked closely with members of the public to help plan and participate in the study. Initially, nine members of the public joined a focus group to refine the Re-MAP (Replacing Meat with Alternative Protein Sources) intervention. Along with other insights, the group was instrumental in providing feedback about main four components of the intervention:
What meat alternatives should we offer as part of the intervention?
How can we design the information leaflets to be engaging and easy to understand?
Were the success stories inspiring?
What cookbooks should be given as part of the intervention?
Independently, stories were also collected from people who had successfully reduced their meat consumption, in order to provide short vignettes to participants taking part in the Re-MAP study. Once all the feedback was collated and the intervention methodology refined the study kicked off in the autumn of 2017.
The intervention involved the provision of meat-alternatives to members of the public for four weeks along with supporting material, including information about the benefits of eating less meat, success stories of people who reduced their meat consumption, and recipes. This study then assessed whether people who received the intervention had a lower meat intakes than people who did not receive the intervention during the fourth intervention week and one month after the intervention ends. This study also explored the impact of the intervention on other components of participants’ diet, some psycho-social variables (e.g. attitudes towards eating less meat), and some biomarkers of health risk (e.g. blood pressure).
Why should we eat less meat?
Excessive meat consumption is linked with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Additionally, livestock substantially contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, degrades vast regions of land, pollutes water resources, and negatively affects the natural biodiversity. Moderating meat consumption could therefore help to improve human and environmental health, but little is known about how to encourage this behaviour change.
Engaging the public in our research!
The results from the intervention are now being analysed and will be available on the LEAP outputs page in due course, however this study would not have been possible without the generosity of the volunteers who helped shape the programme and to those who took part in the study.