Meat Industry Marketing Distances Consumers From Empathy
The University of Oslo conducted a series of five studies in both Norway and the United States to shed light on the “psychological dissociation” consumers experience when they purchase and consume meat products. Certainly, most people understand that pork, beef, and wings come from pigs, cows, and chickens – yet intentionally rebranding these products with food names creates a mental divide which, in turn, makes us believe it’s okay to eat it.
Scientists gathered data on empathy levels from 1,000 participants who were presented with animals in varying levels of dismemberment. These visual dissociation studies featured chickens, cows, and lambs as whole animals, beheaded, or in chops or filets. In all three studies, the participants felt significantly more empathy toward the animals when presented in their whole form – some even requested vegetarian options when presented with an entire roasted pig! Not surprisingly, similar reactions were found when using language such as “slaughtered” or “killed,” instead of “harvested.”
It should come as no great surprise that meat is harder to swallow when we see where it comes from, yet this scientific analysis is useful to reinforce what we already know. Postdoctoral fellow Jonas R. Kunst said, about the study:
“Our appetite is affected both by what we call the dish we eat and how the meat is presented to us.”
Ain’t that the truth.
Photo credit: Pixabay