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Background: Reducing meat consumption may improve human health, curb environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions, and limit the large-scale suffering of animals raised in factory farms. Previous work has begun to develop interventions to reduce individual meat consumption, often by appealing directly to individual health motivations. However, research on nutritional behavior change suggests that interventions additionally linking behavior to ethical values, identity formation, and existing social movements may be particularly effective and longer-lasting. Regarding meat consumption, preliminary evidence and psychological theory suggest that appeals related to animal welfare may have considerable potential to effectively leverage these elements of human psychology. We aim to conduct a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis evaluating the effectiveness of animal welfare-related appeals on actual or intended meat consumption or purchasing. Our investigation will critically synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding psychological mechanisms of intervening on individual meat consumption and empirically identify the psychological characteristics underlying the most effective animal welfare-based interventions. Methods: We will systematically search eight academic databases and extensively search unpublished grey literature. We will include studies that assess interventions intended to reduce meat consumption or purchase through the mention or portrayal of animal welfare, that measure outcomes related to meat consumption or purchase, and that have a control condition. Eligible studies may recruit from any human population, be written in any language, and be published or released any time. We will meta-analyze the studies, reporting the pooled point estimate and additional metrics that describe the distribution of potentially heterogeneous effects. We will assess studies' risk of bias and conduct sensitivity analyses for publication bias. We describe possible follow-up analyses to investigate hypothesized moderators of intervention effectiveness. Discussion: The findings of the proposed systematic review and meta-analysis, including any identified methodological limitations of the existing literature, could inform the design of successful evidence-based interventions with broad potential to improve human, animal, and environmental well-being. Systematic review registration: The protocol was preregistered via the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/d3y56/registrations).
Mathur, M. B., Robinson, T. N., Reichling, D. B., Gardner, C. D., Nadler, J., Bain, P. A., & Peacock, J. (2020). Reducing meat consumption by appealing to animal welfare: Protocol for a meta-analysis and theoretical review. Systematic Reviews, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-1264-5