The majority of individuals consume meat and dairy products with little regard for the repercussions. Nonetheless, the ramifications are global in scope. The production of meat, eggs, and milk by animals accounts for around 14% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Within agriculture, beef production is the leading cause of forest loss. Water contamination has been connected to the meat business, as has a slew of other environmental issues.
Eating too much meat can also be harmful to your health, particularly red and processed meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Animal welfare is an issue on farms across the world, with pigs, cows, and chickens sometimes subjected to overcrowding, open wounds, and sickness in order to feed the world’s hunger for meat.
Animal welfare legislation in the United Kingdom fall short of international standards set by organizations such as the RSPCA. Chickens are forced to develop far quicker than they would naturally and become unwell as a result, while pigs and cows are restricted by tight containers and tie posts. Cannibalism has been discovered in caged pigs in severe circumstances.
Veganism is on the increase, no doubt in reaction to these concerns. Between 2014 and 2019, the number of persons consuming a plant-based diet in the UK climbed fourfold. Vegans account for roughly 1% of the population in the UK, whereas vegetarians account for 2%. Meat consumption is really rising on a worldwide basis. So, despite broad understanding of the drawbacks, why do people continue to consume meat?
Psychologists may be able to help.
THE PARADOX OF MEAT
Our latest work looked at 73 publications about a phenomena known as the meat paradox, which is a mental conflict that allows animal lovers to continue eating animals.
This moral quandary can induce psychological distress, and our investigation uncovered numerous potential triggers. For example, you may recall the startling realization that the meat on your plate originated from an animal for the first time.
Meat consumption has long-term repercussions for how we interact with and perceive animals. In a 2010 research, those who ate beef were less inclined to think of animals as morally important. And the more a person is devoted to consuming meat, the more likely they are to ignore information about the benefits of animals bred for food.
People are faced with a difficult decision because of their aversion to eating meat. Either give up meat to eliminate the moral problem, or continue eating meat and morally detach. When we choose not to act on our moral values, we are said to be morally disengaged. People adopt a variety of tactics to preserve their moral disengagement, according to our findings.
You may try to forget that the meat on your plate came from an animal after being informed of its origins. When the animal origins of meat are hidden, such as by calling it beef instead of cow, people are more eager to eat it. Telling yourself that meat is required for good health, socially acceptable, natural, or just too lovely to give up might help you feel less guilty about eating it. Giving up meat can be challenging, therefore individuals frequently use these ways to help them resolve their contradictory emotions.
MORAL DISENGAGEMENT AND OVERCOMING IT
If you want to cut down on your meat consumption, psychological research has some suggestions.
• Recognize and recall how cutting back on meat intake corresponds to your values.
• Keep animals in mind at all times. Allow yourself to humanize them by thinking about their emotional capabilities, for example.
• Recognize that modifying your diet may take time.
If you wish to urge others to consume less meat, you can do the following:
• Don’t hold them responsible for their meat consumption. This just serves to strengthen people’s opposition to vegetarianism and veganism. Instead, take a compassionate attitude to these difficult conversations.
· Refrain from instructing others what to do. Allow them to make their own decisions.
• Humanize animals by encouraging people to think of them as companions rather than food.