You Eat What You Are: The Role of Identities and Socioeconomic Factors in Meat Consumption and Acceptance of Protein Alternatives
The consumption of meat has serious implications for environmental issues. It contributes to carbon emissions, soil degradation, and habitation loss. Meat consumption also has negative impacts on health, and animal ethics. Despite these issues, meat is still the preferred source of protein for many, and this reliance on meat will likely lead to food security issues in the future. Meat is not only a source of sustenance for some but is strongly connected to their identity. Due to this connection, meat remains an important part of diet, regardless of price increase and availability of protein alternatives. In order to reduce meat consumption, connections between meat consumption and identity must be understood. Using the Social Identity Theory, this research investigates how identities are connected to meat consumption, how they interact with different motivations for vegetarianism, how they can change to include vegetarianism, and how they resist protein alternatives. One-on-one interviews were conducted with a mixture of vegetarians and omnivores, followed by an online anonymous survey focusing on masculine, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities. Results indicate that these identities interact with both the three core concerns for vegetarianism and the perceptions of protein alternatives in different ways. The implications of this research suggest that identities can assist in efforts to reduce meat consumption, but this depends on the identities.