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Coping with multiple identities related to meat consumption

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Global meat consumption poses a threat to environmental sustainability and human health. Therefore, moral and health‐related norms connected to eating meat are changing and consumers experience conflicts when choosing between meat and nonmeat options in various situations. To achieve a better understanding of the nature of these conflicts and how consumers cope with them, we study identities related to meat consumption and how they are organized. Identity theories are used as the lens to address the self‐relevance of meat to consumers. Thirteen Danish consumers shared how and why they ate, reduced, or avoided meat in a food‐based photo‐diary and in‐depth interviews, supported by a visualization approach, developed from self‐brand connection methods. Three higher‐order identities (pragmatic idealist, ethical foodie, and healthy hedonist) emerged, governing the consumption, reduction, or avoidance of different meat categories. Identity conflicts between health, moral (e.g., animal welfare), and hedonic concerns were present, but also identity stigma. Coping mechanisms include change of salience and changing patterns of meat consumption. Campaigners promoting a reduction in meat consumption and developers of alternative protein foods can use these insights to target identities and facilitate conflict resolutions. However, more research is needed on how generalizable results are.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Marketing
Pages (from-to)159-182
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • coping mechanisms, environmental sustainability, identity conflict, meat consumption, multiple identities

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