Experiences and avoidance of consumption-related discomfort and remorse amongst meat eaters
“This study explores feelings of shame and discomfort arising from meat consumption, and maps the characteristics and demographics of those who frequently experience or avidly resist meat shame. The findings can guide animal advocates to direct campaigns towards those most open to reducing meat consumption. – Charlotte Flores & Chris Bryant
The disconnect between liking the taste of meat and opposing the harms of meat production is referred to as ‘the meat paradox’ within the animal and plant-based advocacy movement. This study aims to further explore the feelings of shame and guilt that arise from this phenomenon. Specifically, the characteristics and demographics of those who experience meat shame, as well as those who resist it.
This study explores feelings of shame and discomfort arising from meat consumption, and maps the characteristics and demographics of those who frequently experience or avidly resist meat shame. The findings can guide animal advocates to direct campaigns towards those most open to reducing meat consumption.
This study revealed that many meat consumers experience meat shame. The desire to resolve these negative feelings related to meat consumption make these consumers particularly appropriate targets of animal advocacy campaigns. This study identifies two categories of behavioural responses to feelings of ‘meat shame’:
Meat Conscious Consumers who experience negative feelings in response to their meat consumption levels and their contribution to the harms of meat-production and demand.
Meat Shame Resisters who are resistant to the concept of being shamed for their meat consumption and do not believe there is reason to feel meat-related shame.
This study seeks to more clearly identify the meat-consumers who are most susceptible to animal advocates’ plant-based messaging. The findings are relevant for animal advocates seeking data and guidelines for the effective use of resources for targeted animal advocacy campaigns.
For meat shame-resisters, shame-inducing campaigns may not work well or can even backfire. Because discussion groups revealed their priority is not animal welfare, it makes sense to appeal to their interest in the environment, their health, and budgets. Finally, both meat-conscious and meat shame-resistant consumers would benefit from having positive interactions with vegan advocates as well as receiving more general information about the effects of meat consumption and its alternatives.
Through a representative sample survey as well as two follow up focus groups we were able to uncover the hidden modifiers of meat conscious behaviour and consumption related shame. The hope is that this study will aid the animal advocacy movement in increasing the effectiveness of their campaigns by providing information that will help target those portions of the population that are open to change and avoid or adapt campaign methods for those who are opposed to it.