Can Green Defaults Reduce Meat Consumption?

Food Policy, 110, 102298

30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2021 Last revised: 2 Aug 2023

See all articles by Johanna Meier

Johanna Meier

Ruhr University of Bochum - Faculty of Economics

Mark A. Andor

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen)

Friederike Doebbe

Stockholm School of Economics

Neal Haddaway

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm

Lucia A. Reisch

El-Erian Institute for Behavioural Economics and Policy; Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication

Date Written: August 11, 2021

Abstract

Meat consumption and production cause a significant share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the food sector. Behavioural food policy suggests the use of defaults – i.e., pre-setting a specific choice option – as an effective demand-side instrument to reduce meat consumption. This preregistered systematic review compiles, critically appraises, and synthesizes existing empirical evidence on such food defaults. Beyond that, potential effect moderators are explored. The systematic search yields twelve individual studies comprising sixteen different default interventions. We find that defaults are generally effective in nudging consumers to eat less meat. The studies’ risk of bias is assessed to be moderate. Yet, the effect size appears to be influenced by a range of moderators. In particular, the invasiveness of the default, the presentation of alternatives to choose from, and consumers’ gender and setting experience appear to moderate the effect. Overall, evidence is still limited, and heterogeneity in the design and implementation of interventions is large. Further research is needed to understand the impact of effect moderators and to assess the long-term and large-scale effectiveness. We conclude that defaults are a promising tool for climate-sensitive food policy, with more knowledge needed to profoundly inform policymakers and implementing actors.

Keywords: defaults, meat consumption, food policy, behavioural intervention, climate change mitigation

JEL Classification: D91, I18, M38, Q18, Q54, Q58

Suggested Citation

Meier, Johanna and Andor, Mark A. and Doebbe, Friederike and Haddaway, Neal and Reisch, Lucia A., Can Green Defaults Reduce Meat Consumption? (August 11, 2021). Food Policy, 110, 102298, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3903160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3903160

Johanna Meier (Contact Author)

Ruhr University of Bochum - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ruhr University of Bochum
Faculty of Economics
D-44780 Bochum, DE 44780
Germany

Mark A. Andor

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen)

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Essen, 45128
Germany

Friederike Doebbe

Stockholm School of Economics ( email )

PO Box 6501
Stockholm, 11383
Sweden

Neal Haddaway

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm ( email )

Linnégatan 87D
Stockholm, 104 51
Sweden

Lucia A. Reisch

El-Erian Institute for Behavioural Economics and Policy ( email )

Trumpington Rd 25
Cambridge
Great Britain

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

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