Filippo Bianchi1, Claudia Dorsal2, Emma Garnett3, Paul Aveyard1, Susan A Jebb1
1. University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford, UK
2. Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Department of Psychology, Düsseldorf, Germany
3. University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology, Cambridge, UK
There is growing research suggesting that eating less meat would benefit the natural environment and human health, but it is unclear whether interventions aiming to inform people’s meat consumption can actually help change this dietary habit. In our review published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, we evaluated the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce meat consumption and purchases by appealing to the conscious and rational factors underlying human behaviour, like knowledge and values. We included data to August 2017 from 29 studies testing 59 interventions. Some of these studies reported data on meat consumption, some on meat purchases in real or virtual settings, and some on intentions to consume meat.
Our review showed that two type of interventions appeared promising. These were (i) encouraging people to keep track of how much red and processed meat they ate or (ii) individual lifestyle counselling interventions involving motivational and educational sessions with a trained health professional. Simply providing information about the health, environmental or animal welfare consequences of eating meat didn't reduce peoples intentions to eat less meat or the types of meat they selected in simulated food choice studies. The few studies measuring real life behaviour also found no evidence that information alone changed actual behaviours. Providing information that was tailored to the intervention recipients did not reduce actual or intended meat consumption, while providing information about multiple consequences of eating meat led to mixed results. The amount and quality of the evidence available to date is limited and more research is needed to assess the effectiveness of interventions targeting conscious determinants of human behaviour to reduce the demand for meat.