Changing Hearts and Plates: The Effect of Animal-Advocacy Pamphlets on Meat Consumption
20 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: December 22, 2020
Social movements have driven large shifts in public attitudes and values, from anti-slavery to marriage equality. A central component of these movements is moral persuasion. We conduct a randomized-controlled trial of pro-vegan animal-welfare pamphlets at a college campus. We observe the effect on meat consumption using an individual-level panel data set of approximately 200,000 meals. Our baseline regression results, spanning two academic years, indicate that the pamphlet had no statistically significant long-term aggregate effects. However, as we disaggregate by gender and time, we find statistically significant effects within the first two months: reductions in poultry and fish for men and beef for women. We merge food purchase data with survey responses to examine mechanisms. Those participants who (i) self-identified as vegetarian, (ii) reported thinking more about the treatment of animals or (iii) expressed a willingness to make big lifestyle changes reduced meat consumption during the semester of the intervention.
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