Meatless Mondays for Personal- and Others’ Wellbeing. Towards a greater understanding of the relationship between meat consumption or reduction, animal welfare and human welfare.

Publication Date: Wednesday 19 June 2013
Author(s): De Backer, C.J.S. & Hudders, L.
Appeared in: AFHVS Conference


Campaigns that strive for a lowered meat consumption, such as the “Meatless Mondays” movement often play on health issues or ecological concerns. These are well-known motivators of vegetarianism. Yet, vegetarians are not the target group of such campaigns, and it is therefore better to investigate what drives people who mildly or moderately lower their meat intake. They still need to be motivated and reassured about the benefits of meat reduction. In this paper, we explored in-depth what drives semi-vegetarians who skip meat at least three days a week, and light semi-vegetarians who skip meat once or twice a week. Using an online survey (N= 1556) we analyzed and compared the motivations of both semi-vegetarian groups to fulltime vegetarians. Health appears to be the most important motivator, shared by both groups. In contrast, health appeared to be of lesser importance to fulltime vegetarians, who appear to be most driven by ecological- and especially animal concerns. They are “morally” driven, which fits the general perception that vegetarians are more virtuous compared to meat eaters. In a second study, we investigated this further. Using a second online survey (N= 299) we compared vegetarians’, semi-vegetarians’ and meat eaters’ attitudes and behavior towards animal and human welfare. Results reveal that vegetarians are most concerned about animal welfare, and most likely to donate money to charities that support animals/nature and/or humans. Yet, meat eaters appear to be more concerned about human welfare compared to vegetarians and semi-vegetarians, especially with regards to group loyalty, respect and purity. Potential explanations and suggestions for future research are discussed at the end.

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