The effect of meat-shaming on meat eaters’ emotions and intentions to adapt behavior

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Eating meat can have detrimental effects on the environment, animal welfare, and a person’s health. However, consumers are often reluctant to reduce their meat consumption and public information-based awareness campaigns show little effect. As an alternative, some vegan activists and pressure groups employ emotion-based campaigns using meat-shaming techniques in the hope to change people’s meat consumption behavior. By publicly and often drastically criticizing consumers, they try to make them experience negative emotions and ultimately change their behavior. In three experimental studies, we explore whether a confrontational approach of putting meat-shaming messages on products is likely to affect consumer behavior. Specifically, we find that meat-shaming messages trigger shame but also other negative emotions that translate into reduced purchase intentions. The content of the message largely determines the different emotions that are evoked. The messages can activate both restore and protect motivations, either stimulating or hindering behavioral change. Interestingly, it does not seem to matter whether the meat-shaming message stems from a governmental organization, activist group, or private person and whether it is framed with a personal or informational appeal. If the source looks credible, the message influences consumer experience and behavioral intentions
Original languageEnglish
Article number104831
Number of pages14
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Meat consumption
  • Animal welfare Activism
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Behavior change
  • Shaming


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