Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Brian Cook

Location: U.K.
Academic field: Food consumption behavior
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title: Effective Behaviour Change Strategies to Promote Meat Reduction in Brazil
  • What We Learned From It:
    • Brazil's dietary landscape has a great deal of regional diversity, with meat playing a crucial role across many dishes and set against the backdrop of a complex social structure. Patterns of meat consumption vary significantly across the country, influenced by regional traditions, social disparities, and economic factors. Any strategies to promote meat consumption reduction in Brazil will need to be region-specific and tailored to the specific audience.
    • Behavioral science research, primarily from wealthier Western nations, has found that there are many barriers for individuals in reducing their meat eating, such as the lack of dietary knowledge, strong cultural and social norms supporting meat consumption, misperceptions about the health benefits of meat, and resistance to trying new foods. The research also points to several promising strategies to promote a more plant-based diet.
    • The Guidance Memo describes the COM-B model that brings together many theories of behavior change. It proposes that for change to occur, one needs: 1) Capability to carry out the action - physical (being able to do it) and psychological (having the right knowledge and knowing how to do it). 2) Opportunity to perform it - physical (having the right chance to do it ) and social (affected by what our peers think and say). 3) Motivation to do it - automatic (feeling like doing it) and reflective (deciding to do it).
    • The Guidance Memo adapts the COM-B to provide practical advice on how to promote eating less meat for Brazil, giving examples applicable specifically to Brazil.
    • Key lesson for frontline workers: One must define the precise behavior and specific audience to be influenced. Before taking any action, one should identify who (i.e., the specific population on whom one is going to focus), when one wants the reduction to occur (e.g., at home, away from home, only at dinner), how much of a reduction one wants to see. Do not go for "everyone in society".


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Tiny Beam Fund is focused on industrial animal agriculture's practices and business model, on academic research that provides a deeper understanding of this model, its negative impacts on society, and possible solutions to address these negative impacts. Tackling this business model is very challenging when the products from this business model are promoted heavily by meat/food conglomerates with deep pockets and by governments in LMICs, and when the public continues to buy these products enthusiastically. At the same time urging consumers to reduce their purchase of these products is very hard. Still, one needs to try to reach consumers, to understand their consumption behavior, and devise strategies to steer them away from industrially produced meat products.
  • Brazil is an excellent LMIC to focus on for meat consumption reduction. Although Brazil's meat consumption has not climbed ever higher in recent years (with beef consumption decreasing and being replaced by chicken and pork), it is the world's fifth largest nation in terms of land area and population, and is the home of JBS (the world's largest meat processing corporation).
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