Consumers unaware of how meat impacts the environment - study

Long Lunch 15/06/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

Correction: Beef + Lamb NZ's comment has been revised for accuracy. 

Research shows that many people are unaware of the impact meat has on the environment.

A study by the University of Otago investigated factors that could change attitudes towards eating meat. It turns out that meat prices and potential health benefits offer the greatest motivation for consumers to reduce their meat intake, trailed by concern over meat’s environmental impact.

University of Otago PhD student Garrett Lentz told RadioLIVE that there seems to be a disconnect with what consumers know and the reality of meat consumption.  

“People don’t fully understand how many impacts meat consumption has on the planet. And also the severity of those impacts.”

Shifting to plant-based diets to mitigate environmental impacts has been lauded by many researchers, animal rights advocates, and even a United Nations study.

But Mr Lentz clarified that it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to go vegan. As a plant-based convert himself, he recommends trying to reduce meat consumption and opt for more plant-based foods.

“Just moving that direction is a positive move for the environment,” he said.

When asked how farmers would feel about such research, Mr Lentz replied that he hopes farmers don’t feel like their being singled out.

“Hopefully we can feed everybody on the planet without destroying it in the process or contributing to climate change. So I hope farmers can see that some of these things need to be addressed but we are not trying to single them out.”

Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Rod Slater told Farmers Weekly that their organisation undergoes their own research methods and that some (but not all) of their findings are in line with the Otago study, such the environmental issues not be high on consumers radar when making meat purchases.

Listen to the full interview with Garrett Lentz above. 

The Long Lunch with Trudi Nelson in for Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.