Scott, Evon, Giorgos Kallis, & Christos Zografos (2019). Why environmentalists eat meat. PLoS ONE, 14(7), e0219607. (Link:

Abstract: Why do people who care about the environment adopt behaviours that are not consistent with their beliefs? Previous studies approach this as a case of cognitive dissonance, researchers looking into the strategies through which people reduce gaps between their attitudes and their behaviours. Here we start from the premise that there is no dissonance, and that people have consistent reasons of why they are doing what they are doing. The research task is then to shed light on these reasons. Using Q-methodology, a mixed quantitative-qualitative approach, we interviewed 42 environmentally-minded researchers asking them why they eat meat. Our interviewees were aware of and cared about the environmental and ethical impacts of meat eating, but reasoned that they eat meat because either technological, or political changes are more important than what they personally do, because of doubts about the impact of personal action in a complex world, or simply because they lack the determination to stop eating meat. Our analysis suggests that policies and messages that try to educate or guilt meat-eaters are unlikely to work with those well aware of the impacts of their actions.

Evon Scott <> is with the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.