Why Do We (not) Reduce Our Meat Consumption? An Extended Theory of Planned Behavior

Amanda Meaghan Amy Beukenkamp & Hannah Sofie Volkmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: The objective of this study is to provide insights into the reduction of meat consumption as a pro-environmental behavior. As individuals are unaware of the environmental impact of their diet, we began by examining what an environmentally responsible diet entails. To understand the underlying psychological constructs of diet modification and in particular meat reduction, we analyzed the influence of norms and values on the respective behavior. Previous research and the resulting insights were utilized to develop well-founded recommendations for the promotion of meat reduction.
Methodology: Based on existing pro-environmental research we developed an extended Theory of Planned Behavior model including Schwartz’s (2012) self-transcendence and self-enhancement values and distinct norms, i.e. personal, descriptive, and injunctive norm. To examine the psychological aspects influencing meat reduction, we applied a cross-sectional research design. The data was collected using a self-completed online-questionnaire. We conducted Structural Equation Modeling with SPSS and AMOS to test the developed model and the derived hypotheses.
Main Findings: When examining environmentally responsible eating behavior, we found that the reduction of animal-based products was an integral component. Meat reduction was found to be the most effective strategy to limit the environmental impact of diet. We further found that personal norms and injunctive norms drive meat reduction. This suggests that a feeling of moral obligation and other’s approval increase individuals’ meat reduction. In addition, self-transcendence values revealed a significant positive influence on several constructs in the context of meat consumption reduction. This implies that individuals with altruistic values, who care strongly about the welfare of others and the environment, are more positive towards and more likely to engage in meat reduction. Finally, we found that initiatives to promote meat reduction should comprise a variety of measures. To address the examined norms and values, we primarily suggest message framing.
Relevance: This study makes a theoretical and practical contribution to the topic of meat reduction. The suggested actions can benefit initiatives to more effectively promote individually determined diet choices which lead to reductions in meat consumption. The developed model and our findings provide a foundation for future research in this context.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages109
SupervisorsAd de Jong