photo: çŽ‹ åšé½Š/Creative Commons
This is really pretty encouraging: A new study from Kansas State University shows how increased media coverage of animal welfare issues in recent years has led to a decreased demand for meat in the United States. Increased awareness of how livestock are routinely treated through factory farming ultimately has had less of an influence on the amount of meat people purchase than financial factors, but it's nice to know that all this collective pounding on keyboards in paying off in measurable ways.
Though the study generated an index going back to 1992, this chart shows the number of articles just from 1999-2009. Original in paper linked above.
Looking at the amount of published on animal welfare between 1992-2008, US Meat Demand: The Influence of Animal Welfare Media Coverage, shows that pork and poultry demand would have likely been 2.65% and 5.01% higher today if coverage of animal welfare problems were the same in 2008 as they had been in 1999
Interestingly, beef demand appears not to have been affected by media coverage over the same time period. The study notes however that "this should not be interpreted as the beef industry being immune."
Also important (and encouraging, from my vegetarian perspective), increased media focus on animal welfare has caused people to purchase less meat overall, rather than just shift their purchases from one type of meat to another.
As for how long each spike in media attention on this issue influences buying behavior: The study says that "media articles influence meat demand for bot the quarter they are released and the subsequent quarter following the article's publication."
h/t: Support Meat Free Monday
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More on Animal Welfare:
Masters of Beef Advocacy Grads Take On Sustainable Food Supporters, Attacking The Wrong Target
Vegetarian Diet Could Cut Climate Change Mitigation Costs by 70%
Hidden Webcam Exposes Chicken Cruelty 24 Hours A Day
So What Does the Inside of a Factory Farm Look Like Anyway?