70% of Americans rarely discuss the environmental impact of their food

February 13, 2020

American consumers are hungry for more climate-friendly plant-based diets, but they need more information, according to results from a national survey released today by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and the Earth Day Network (EDN).

The report, titled "Climate Change and the American Diet," found that half (51 percent) of Americans surveyed said that they would eat more plant-based foods if they had more information about the environmental impacts of their food choices. However, 70 percent rarely or never talk about this issue with friends or family. Nearly two-thirds of the Americans surveyed report having never been asked to eat more plant-based foods, and more than half rarely or never hear about the topic in the media.

However, the report found that more than half of Americans are willing to eat more vegetables and plant-based alternatives and/or less red meat. Additionally, consumers are already changing their diets and purchasing habits in favor of plant-based foods. 

Although four percent of Americans self-identify as vegan or vegetarian, 20 percent choose plant-based dairy alternatives about two to five times a week or more often. Roughly the same percentage choose not to buy products from food companies that are not taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.

"Many American consumers are interested in eating a more healthy and climate-friendly diet," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. "However, many simply don't know yet which products are better or worse -- a huge communication opportunity for food producers, distributors and sellers."

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication conducts research on public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior, and on the underlying psychological, cultural, and political factors that influence them. It is based at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Americans identified other barriers to eating more plant-based foods, including perceived cost, taste and accessibility. About half (49 percent) of Americans think a meal with a plant-based main course is more expensive than a meal with a meat-based main course. 

The research, a nationally representative survey of 1,043 American adults, also showed that Americans would eat more plant-based foods if they cost less than meat options (63 percent) and if they tasted better (67 percent). Barriers of cost and access, including distance from grocery stores and access to fresh produce, impact lower-income households in particular. 

"This data is a wake-up call for the climate movement," said Jillian Semaan, Food and Environment Director, Earth Day Network. "Animal agriculture is one of the major drivers of our climate crisis, we need to provide people with the relevant information that connects food choices, animal agriculture and climate change.'
-end-
These and other findings come from a nationally representative survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and Earth Day Network. The survey of 1,043 American adults (18+), was conducted in December 2019 on the Ipsos KnowledgePanel. The research was funded by Earth Day Network as part of its Foodprints for the Future campaign.

Other principal investigators included Seth Rosenthal and Matthew Ballew, from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and Jillian Semaan from the Earth Day Network.

The report can be found here: https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/climate-change-and-the-american-diet/

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.