Climatic Change

, Volume 120, Issue 1–2, pp 25–38 | Cite as

Meat consumption and climate change: the role of non-governmental organizations

  • Linnea I. Laestadius
  • Roni A. Neff
  • Colleen L. Barry
  • Shannon Frattaroli
Article

Abstract

The contribution of livestock production to climate change is now widely acknowledged. Despite this, efforts to reduce meat consumption in light of climate change have been relatively limited. One potential avenue for encouraging consumption changes is via non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This study used a qualitative approach to understand how and to what extent environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden have worked to reduce or alter domestic meat consumption in light of climate change. While almost all of the NGOs examined had mentioned the issue on their websites, few had established formal campaigns to reduce meat consumption. Active public outreach was dominated by animal protection and food-focused groups, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Animal protection organizations advocated for larger reductions in meat consumption than environmental groups. Few NGOs sought to promote national-level polices to reduce meat consumption. There is a continued need for public education campaigns with clear messages, particularly by environmental NGOs, as well as efforts to build support for policy measures that seek to reduce meat consumption.

References

  1. Berners-Lee M, Hoolohan C, Cammack H, Hewitt CN (2012) The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices. Energy Policy 43:184–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bristow E, Fitzgerald A (2011) Global climate change and the industrial animal agriculture link: the construction of risk. Soc Anim 19(3):205–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Capper JL (2012) Is the grass always greener? Comparing the environmental impact of conventional, natural and grass-fed beef production systems. Animals 2(2):127–143. doi:10.3390/ani2020127 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carlsson-Kanyama A, González AD (2009) Potential contributions of food consumption patterns to climate change. Am J Clin Nutr 89(5):1704S–1709SCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charmaz K (2006) Constructing grounded theory. A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Sage Publications Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Cox R (2013) Advocacy Campaigns and message construction. In: Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere, 3rd edn. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, pp 209–244Google Scholar
  7. de Boer J, Schösler H, Boersema JJ (2013) Climate change and meat eating: an inconvenient couple? J Environ Psychol 33:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Doyle J (2011) Sustainable consumption?: Reframing meat and dairy consumption in the politics of climate change. In: Mediating climate change. Ashgate Publishing, Burlington, pp 123–144Google Scholar
  9. FAO (2009) The State of Food and Agriculture, Livestock in the Balance, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i0680e/i0680e.pdf. Accessed August 3, 2012
  10. FAO (2012) FAOSTAT database collections, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. http://faostat.fao.org/. Accessed August 3, 2012
  11. Freeman CP (2010) Meat's place on the campaign menu: how US environmental discourse negotiates vegetarianism. Environ Commun 4(3):255–276Google Scholar
  12. Gais T, Walker JL Jr (1991) Pathways to influence in American politics. In: Walker JL Jr (ed) Mobilizing interest groups in America. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, pp 103–121Google Scholar
  13. Garnett T (2012) Climate change and agriculture: Can market governance mechanisms reduce emissions from the food system fairly and effectively? International Institute for Environment and Development. http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/16512IIED.pdf? Accessed September 7, 2012
  14. González AD, Frostell B, Carlsson-Kanyama A (2011) Protein efficiency per unit energy and per unit greenhouse gas emissions: potential contribution of diet choices to climate change mitigation. J of Food Policy 36(5):562–570. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2011.07.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harris JE, Gleason PM, Sheean PM, Boushey C, Beto JA, Bruemmer B (2009) An introduction to qualitative research for food and nutrition professionals. J Am Diet Assoc 109(1):80–90. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Humane Research Council (2007) Advocating Meat Reduction and Vegetarianism to Adults in the U.S. http://www.humanespot.org/content/advocating-meat-reduction-and-vegetarianism-us-adults. Accessed February 14, 2013
  17. Kollmuss A, Agyeman J (2002) Mind the gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Env Educ Res 8(3):239–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lea E, Worsley A (2008) Australian consumers’ food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours. Appetite 50:207–214. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2005.07.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. MacMillan Y, Durrant R (2009) Livestock consumption and climate change. WWF-UK. http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/fec_report_.pdf. Accessed September 7, 2012
  20. Maxwell JA (2010) Using numbers in qualitative research. Qual Inq 16(6):475–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McMichael A, John J, Powles W, Butler CD, Uauy R (2007) Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health. Lancet 370(9594):1253–1263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Naturvårdsverket (2011) Köttkonsumtionens Klimatpåverkan: Drivkrafter Och Styrmedel. http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer6400/978-91-620-6456-3.pdf Accessed September 7, 2012
  23. Neff R, Iris A, Chan L, Clegg Smith K (2009) Yesterday’s dinner, tomorrow’s weather, today’s news? US newspaper coverage of food system contributions to climate change. Public Health Nutr 12(7):1006–1014. doi:10.1017/S1368980008003480 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nordgren A (2012) A climate tax on meat? In: Potthast T, Meisch S (eds) Climate change and sustainable development, 1st edn. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, pp 109–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ockwell D, Whitmarsh L, O'Neill S (2009) Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement? Sci Commun 30(3):305–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pelletier N, Pirog R, Rasmussen R (2010) Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States. Agric Syst 103(6):380–389. doi:10.1080/17524032.2010.501998 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Peters GM, Rowley HV, Wiedemann S et al (2010) Red meat production in Australia: life cycle assessment and comparison with overseas studies. Environ Sci Technol 44(4):1327–1332. doi:10.1021/es901131e CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2008) Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America: a Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. http://www.ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf. Accessed August 3, 2012
  29. Popp A, Lotze-Campen H, Bodirsky B (2010) Food consumption, diet shifts and associated Non-CO2 greenhouse gases from agricultural production. Glob Environ Chang 20(3):451–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Powell TWR, Lenton TM (2012) Future carbon dioxide removal via biomass energy constrained by agricultural efficiency and dietary trends. Energy Environ Sci. doi:10.1039/c2ee21592f Google Scholar
  31. Saxe H, Larsen TM, Mogensen L (2012) The global warming potential of two healthy nordic diets compared with the average danish diet. Clim Chang. doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0495-4 Google Scholar
  32. Scarborough P, Allender S, Clarke D (2012) Modelling the health impact of environmentally sustainable dietary scenarios in the UK. Eur J Clin Nutr 66:710–715. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2012.34 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schösler H, de Boer J, Boersema JJ (2012) Can we cut out the meat of the dish? constructing consumer-oriented pathways towards meat substitution. Appetite 58(1):39–47. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.09.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Singh HR, Rahman SA (2012) An approach for environmental education by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in biodiversity conservation. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 42:144–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Stehfest E, Bouwman L, Vuuren DP et al (2009) Climate benefits of changing diet. Clim Chang 95(1–2):83–102. doi:10.1007/s10584-008-9534-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Steinfeld H, Gerber P, Wassenaar TD et al (2006) Livestock's long shadow: environmental issues and options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United. Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  37. Thøgersen J, Crompton T (2009) Simple and painless? The limitations of spillover in environmental campaigning. J Consum Policy 32(2):141–163. doi:10.1007/s10603-009-9101-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tobler C, Visschers VHM, Siegrist M (2011) Eating green. Consumers' willingness to adopt ecological food consumption behaviors. Appetite 57(3):674–682. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.08.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Weber CL, Matthews HS (2008) Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environ Sci Technol 42(10):3508–3513. doi:10.1021/es702969f CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Weber EU (2006) Experience-based and description-based perceptions of long-term risk: why global Warming does not scare us (Yet). Clim Chang 77(1):103–120. doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9060-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wirsenius S, Hedenus F, Mohlin K (2010) Greenhouse gas taxes on animal food products: rationale, tax scheme and climate mitigation effects. Clim Chang 108(1–2):159–184. doi:10.1007/s10584-010-9971-x Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linnea I. Laestadius
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roni A. Neff
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Colleen L. Barry
    • 1
  • Shannon Frattaroli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy & ManagementJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Center for a Livable FutureJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Health SciencesJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations