Meat substitutes are on the rise: While they used to be relatively common in health food stores or organic stores, wheat salami, tofu schnitzel, and soy mince can now be found in any well-stocked supermarket. "We wanted to understand why consumers choose these alternatives," says Jeanette Klink-Lehmann, who is working in the department of Dr. Monika Hartmann.
441 men and women from across Germany were asked for a survey by Klink-Lehmann and their coworkers. For example, they asked them to state how much they care about their health, whether or not humanity is heading for an ecological catastrophe, and whether animal cultivation in agriculture should be ethically challenged. They also indicated their attitude towards meat substitutes and their desire to consume them regularly in the future.
Consumation is determinant of animal welfare and human development.
"We have now examined the statistical relationships between these responses based on an extension of a recognized behavioral model," Marcus said. Increasing concern for the environment was not associated with a better rating of meat substitutes, nor with a greater desire to buy them. "We had previously assumed that ecological aspects would also play a role in the intention to consume meat alternatives," Marcus said. "That hasn''t been confirmed."
The researchers can only speculate about the links between participants'' environmental concerns and their behavioral intentions. For example, the survey data already dates from 2017, a time when the "Fridays for Future" movement did not yet exist. "The environment has become much more prevalent today,," Klink-Lehmann says. "As a result, more people are likely aware of the potentially harmful environmental effects of meat consumption today than they were five years ago."
People who view factory farming critically (unsurprisingly) have a more positive attitude toward plant-based sausages and veggie burgers on average. This attitude, in turn, has a significant influence on the decision.
Targeted marketing of the advantages
Marcus, Klink-Lehmann, and Hartmann advocate for better communication of meat alternatives'' ecological advantages. Moreover, the sector should ensure that its products are manufactured with a healthy and balanced diet. In addition, poultry products should be certified from farms that care for good animal welfare. "So manufacturers would do well to take these considerations and then market their foods accordingly."