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Understanding social change through plant-based eating

Sirvinskas, Eric (2021) Understanding social change through plant-based eating. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The current reality in the United States with the production and consumption of animals is creating devastating health, animal welfare, and environmental outcomes. Living in a country with an omnivore majority, there is a compelling narrative forming in shifting away from animal consumption to more plant-based eating. That said, relying on government agencies to provide correct information or for the medical field to shift is wishful thinking and requires vast and expensive systematic change. Off of this, simply providing more information to individuals is not the clear-cut solution. Food emerges as a complex element within U.S. culture and addressing the micro, macro, and in-between synergies and factors is vital in having a foundational understanding of what is influencing or could influence a potential shift. It is critical to dive deeper into examining the psychology of U.S. individuals in their eating patterns, norms, and identity centered around food and how these forces interact with the cultural, product innovation, and positioning of food organizations and companies in the emerging plant-based sphere. In this analysis, we will strive to understand the current trends and build off prior research to shed light on what shifts consumers to shift from animal product consumption to plant-based products and how this can potentially transform plant-based eating from a minority to a majority behavior. To understand the multi-layered nature of this topic, we first ask what did U.S. consumers that follow a plant-based diet and do not consume animal products perceive as their mindset before shifting their diet and what other psychological mechanisms and information were vital to activate their behavior to emerge in a minority position within the total population? From this base perspective, what do these consumers perceive as critical catalysts and elements to aid those that consume animal products to shift to more plant-based consumption? To balance this focus on consumer behavior, we explore what are the perceptions of those that are involved with marketing, product innovation, and positioning of food companies and organizations regarding the main drivers and catalysts toward plant-based eating in the face of this behavior and associated consumer offering being a minority in the U.S. market? To answer these questions, we utilize the theory of minority influence and how it interplays with the motivations most effective in evoking dietary change, the latest findings in plant-based marketing and messaging, and lastly address the barriers that are paramount in promoting a transition to a plant-based diet. Ultimately, this analysis will serve to inform educational material and programming to yield improved health outcomes and lower environmental impact.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Food; Marketing; Plant-based; Social Change; Sustainability; Vegan
Subjects: T Technology > TX Home economics
MeSH Subjects: J Technology,Industry,Agriculture > J02 Food and Beverages
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences > School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2022 21:27
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2022 21:27
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5819

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