CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

What role do climate considerations play in consumption of red meat in Norway?

Arild Vatn, Marianne Aasen, John Thøgersen, Riley E. Dunlap, Dana R. Fisher, Ottar Hellevik, Paul C. Stern

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is facilitated by changes in several consumption activities, such as food choices. This paper examines factors explaining red meat consumption in Norway, especially the role of climate concerns. The paper adds to our knowledge as most existing analyses of (red) meat consumption focus on health and animal welfare issues. Moreover, it expands our understanding by drawing on perspectives from both institutional and social psychological theory, including variables emphasizing the social dynamics behind consumption decisions. The study is based on data from a survey of 2000 people aged 18 years or older conducted in 2018. The data are analyzed using structural equation modelling. We find that there is a strong pro-meat culture in Norway, currently rather weakly influenced by climate concerns – specifically, personal norms and social pressures focused on reducing climate impacts. Instead, habits, beliefs about the qualities of red meat (being tasteful, nutritious, healthy) and social norms supporting red meat consumption are the three most important factors explaining the variation observed. Gender and income also influence red meat consumption, but less than found in other studies. The paper discusses policy implications of these findings, including for taxation, point-of- sale information and communicative processes to support changes in the perceptions of what could be a new “normal” diet.

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