Diet and Nutrition
This study calculates, for the first time, the human trophic level using data for 176 countries from the Food and Agricultural Organization from 1961 to 2009. The researchers used these levels, which are a measure of diet composition, to position humans in the context of the food web. Our trophic level showed that we are closer to herbivores than carnivores; however, this value has increased over time, which the researchers say is consistent with the global trend away from plant-based diets toward diets higher in meat and dairy. The study showed that this pattern is mainly driven by China and India where the human trophic levels are on the rise in conjunction with their increased preference for meat. The study also pointed to a strong link between socio-economic and environmental indicators and global dietary trends.
Communicating the Environmental Impact of Meat Production: Challenges in the Development of a Swedish Meat GuideSubmitted on Dec 05, 2013 (Original item from 2013) Advocacy Strategies | Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
This article examines a consumer guide that was developed to assist Swedish consumers and food professionals to make less environmentally harmful meat choices. The guide rates meat products according to a red/yellow/green (traffic light) system and presents information on carbon footprints, biodiversity, use of pesticides, and animal welfare. The paper describes how the guide was designed, discusses the challenge of relaying complex environmental information to consumers in an understandable way, and highlights future areas for research.
This survey explored the British public’s attitudes towards meat consumption. The results showed that a quarter had reduced their meat intake in the past year. Slightly more than a third of respondents indicated they are willing to consider consuming less meat in the future. One in six young people in the survey said they currently eat no meat. Concern for animal protection was the top reason for considering a reduction in meat consumption, ranking ahead of cost, food quality/safety, health, environmental concerns, world hunger, and religion.
This report shows a decrease in the intake of fluid milk in the U.S. since the 1970s. The report attributes this to a drop in consumption frequency as opposed to changes in portion sizes. The longitudinal data (from five USDA dietary intake surveys) showed that those in the U.S. have become less likely to drink milk with their mid-day and night-time meals. It also revealed that (while controlling for demographic variables) succeeding generations born after the 1930s have consumed milk less often than their preceding generations. The USDA predicts that these generational patterns may result in a continuing decline in milk consumption.
Despite the environmental impacts of livestock farming, there is a worldwide trend of increasing meat consumption, and policy-makers are reluctant to address the issue. This study surveyed Dutch meat-eaters and found a large proportion were meat-reducers, those eating no meat at dinner at least one day per week. Different consumer groups can be distinguished on the basis of meat-consumption frequency, and the article discusses the importance of recognizing these groups when considering strategies for promoting more sustainable consumption practices.
This study explores consumer perceptions of various types of meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish). Survey participants were asked about their average consumption (including products deemed to be natural/organic, grass-fed, or free-range/cage-free) as well as their thoughts on price, health, and animal welfare. Demographic trends were also analyzed. The results showed that the importance that consumers placed on animal welfare did not necessarily reflect their purchasing habits.
This paper discusses the environmental and human health impacts of the global increase in consumption of animal products and the associated intensification of livestock farming practices. The paper is authored by four physicians and highlights the role that healthcare professionals can play in promoting healthier diets and reversing the trend towards greater livestock production.
The perceived benefits and barriers to the adoption of a plant-based diet (characterized by a high prevalence of fresh/minimally processed plant foods and a decreased consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy) were explored in this study. The results showed the main barrier was a lack of information about the diet, while the main benefit was health-related. The authors also found demographic differences in the perception of the pros and cons of consuming such a diet.
Differences in nutrient intake between nonvegetarians and vegetarians (semi-vegetarians, pesco vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and strict vegetarians) were examined in this study using a food frequency questionnaire. The results showed that nutrient intake varied noticeably among the dietary patterns in a variety of ways (intake of beta carotene, fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, and plant proteins, as well as energy intake and BMI).
Consumer market research group Mintel conducted a study on the use of meat alternatives in the U.S. in 2013. Topics covered include: market size and growth, motives for consumption, leading brands and types of alternatives, consumption patterns, and demographics. Advocates will find a wealth of information in this report that may be useful in tailoring materials to both prospective vegetarians and meat reducers.
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