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No Meat, Less Meat, or Better Meat: Understanding NGO Messaging Choices Intended to Alter Meat Consumption in Light of Climate Change

January 01, 2016
Environmental Communication

Linnea I. Laestadius, Roni A. Neff, Colleen L. Barry and Shannon Frattaroli

This paper examines the factors shaping non-governmental organization (NGO) messaging decisions on how meat consumption should be altered in light of climate change. In particular, we sought to understand the relative absence of messages promoting meat-free diets and the decision of some NGOs to pair meat reduction messages with messages encouraging consumers to switch to meat from ruminant grass-fed animals. Interviews were conducted with 27 staff members from environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs from the USA, Canada, and Sweden. While strategic considerations consistently led to the use of modest messages for meat reduction, NGO missions were also key to shaping the specifics of messaging goals. The relatively low personal comfort levels that some NGO staffers held toward meat-free diets also led to the use of more modest requests for meat reduction. Findings highlight the complex nature of the factors underlying the environmental communication messages of NGOs.