A study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath has found that most meat eaters consider veganism to be “ethical” and good for the environment. The study, which focused on psychological attitudes that impact shifting preferences away from animal consumption, shows that the general population already agree with the benefits of vegan diets to the environment and animal welfare. The findings indicate that the broader consumer change in appetite towards plant-based eating even amongst meat eaters is likely to grow and become a mainstay, which will be a positive nod for the planet and all its inhabitants.
An analysis published in the journal Sustainability by University of Bath psychology researcher Chris Bryant has found that the majority of meat eaters agree that veganism is both environmentally-friendly and ethical. The study involved 1,000 meat-eating participants with an average age of 34 years, and found that 73% considered veganism to be “ethical” for animal welfare reasons, and 70% said it was a more sustainable diet.
In addition, half of the respondents considered veganism more healthy. This perception is scientifically backed up by previous research conducted by Oxford University, which confirms the correlation between healthy food and sustainable food, which is predominantly plant-based. The focus of the study was to examine shifting preferences away from consuming meat and dairy in light of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the industry, which fuels our climate crisis, and reducing animal suffering.
“At a time of year when many people are considering switching to plant-based diets with Veganuary, this study shows that most people already agree with the ethics of veganism and are aware of the benefits of vegan diets to the environment,” said Bryant.
The survey further highlights the obstacles preventing more people from adopting a 100% plant-based diet. Around 80% of respondents reflected that veganism would be a difficult challenge, while 77% thought it would be “inconvenient”. Bryant therefore points to the need for more accessible and tasty vegan options to be rolled out in order to drive significant and substantial changes in consumer habits. “If we are to reduce animal product consumption…the development of high quality affordable alternatives to animal products is key,” he explained.
With the plant-based market developing new meat and dairy alternatives and unveiling improved iterations of these products faster than ever before, the study’s findings give hope that more consumers over time will be making the switch for sustainability and animal welfare related reasons.
Several reports have already made bold predictions, such as a 2019 analysis by independent think tank ReThinkX, which stated that the beef and dairy industry is in a “death spiral” towards collapse by 2030 thanks to the evolution of plant-based analogues. Another report by global consultancy AT Kearney estimates that 60% of meat consumption in the future would not be produced by traditional livestock farming measures, but would instead be replaced by plant-based and lab-grown meat options.
Thanks to heightened global attention towards environmental issues in particular in recent years, consumers have pushed veganism to the mainstream. Last year, the movement that encourages people to adopt veganism for the entire month of January, Veganuary, managed to attract over a quarter of a million participants, with even more people joining in to kick the new decade off. Most recently, “ethical veganism” was recognised as a philosophical belief protected by the law against discrimination in a landmark ruling in the United Kingdom.
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