Perceived Benefits of Plant-Based Diets
40 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2022
Date Written: July 21, 2022
A global shift toward plant-based diets could significantly mitigate the negative impact of the food system on the environment, health, and animal welfare. While information provision has become a popular tool among policy-makers and social scientists to push consumers towards more sustainable diets, little is known about the population’s knowledge about the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. Using data from a representative sample of the French population (N=715), we elicit the average knowledge about the relative merits of plant-based diets on the environment, health, and animal welfare. We show that people have on average a good knowledge of the relatively lower environmental impact of plant-based diets (GHG, land use) but considerably underestimate their health benefits. We also find that people significantly underestimate the prevalence of intensive farming and, therefore, the merits of adopting a plant- based diet for the animals. Our results show that society is predominantly divided into two groups: those who have a positive opinion of plant-based diets on all dimensions, and those who see less benefit in plant-based diets on all dimensions. We discuss the implications of these findings for the role of information campaigns in changing people’s diets.
Keywords: Plant-based diets, animal-based diets, externalities, environment, health, animal welfare
JEL Classification: Q10, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation