Animal Rights, Behavior Change and the Media: A Research Proposal

Title: The Effect of an Animal Welfare  Media Campaign on Red Meat Consumption

Hypothesis: An animal rights media campaign targeted to sectors of the New Orleans population likely to become involved in animal rights activism and vegetarianism will decrease red meat consumption within this subpopulation.

Background: The connections between disease and eating red meat are well known. Thorogood, et al. (1994:1669) conclude that there is a “roughly 40% reduction in mortality from cancer in vegetarians and fish eaters compared with meat eaters.”  The American Heart Association website (2010) states that “many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease…, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.” Specifically, red meat consumption is correlated with higher rates of colorectal, esophageal, liver and lung cancers (Cross, et al. 2007).
Consequently, the American Heart Association (Lichtenstein, et al. 2006:83-85) advocates replacing red with lean meats, while limiting processed meat (bacon, hot dogs, sausage, etc.). And the American Institute of Cancer Research (2010:18) recommends that individuals limit their consumption of red meats and avoid processed red meats entirely.
An extensive literature review (Freeman 2008:148-169) of animal rights communication reveals a lack of any study measuring the effects of animal rights media on meat eating. However, it is feasible that an animal rights media campaign would diminish a target audience’s consumption of red meat. First, in a survey (Jasper and Paulson 1995:500) of animal rights protesters, 72% of respondents reported that “things [they] have read” were “very important” in their activism, while only 31% indicated “friends and family” and 23% “news media.” Thus, to a large extent, animal rights protestors were recruited through educational materials they found alone or through strangers. Second, although the percent of vegetarians who become so because of concern over animal welfare is unknown, two samples (n<100) have estimated the proportion at approximately one half (Jabs, et al. 1998:196-199; Fox and Ward 2008:427). Moreover, animal welfare has been found to be the salient factor in vegetarians’ decisions to continue not to eat red meat (Lindeman and Väänänen 2000:56). Therefore, it is reasonable to assert that a significant number of vegetarians are motivated to change their diets due to animal welfare issues presented to them through advocacy campaigns.
Certain characteristics of animal rights activists (disproportionately white, female, upper-middle class, college graduate, atheist/agnostic) (Jasper and Paulson 1995:502-503) are highly congruent with the demographics of the American vegetarian population (Mika 2006:918). According to Jabs, et al. (1998:199), “many ethical vegetarians” reported that they became so during life transition periods, such as during college, a career change, or job loss.
Animal rights advertising campaigns should be targeted towards an audience that is more receptive to their message. Tulane undergraduates are excellent targets for an animal rights media campaign because of their demographics, accessibility and stage in life (college). Relevant student undergraduate demographics are: 73% white, 55% female and 74% out-of-city (Tulane University 2009a). “81% of full-time undergraduates receive some type of financial aid” (Tulane University 2009b:1) with undergraduates on average paying 47% of the bill out-of-pocket (, indicating upper-middle class status. College students are more likely to be nonbelievers than the general population (Zuckerman 2009:952), although information on Tulane atheists is unavailable. The students are easily accessible through advertisements in the weekly student newspaper, which is distributed free throughout campus (Tulane Hullabaloo 2009:2).
Objective: Discern the effects of animal rights ads on red meat consumption.

Indicator: The proportions of red meat to white meat and vegetarian sandwiches purchased in one month will decrease significantly (p<0.05) both at Tulane’s “Bruff To Go” sandwich shops and relative to any changes in adjacent Loyola University’s “Simply To Go” sandwich orders over the course of the study.

Study site. The study will be conducted at Tulane and Loyola Universities, New Orleans, La.

Data and specimen collection. Data on the proportions of red meat to white meat and vegetarian sandwiches purchased will be calculated for both Tulane and Loyola from September-November 2010. During October, one animal rights ad with photographs, information and a link to an online survey will be run each week in Tulane’s student newspaper. There will be no ad campaign at Loyola.

Data analysis. Data will be aggregated and compared across each of the three months in order to determine what effects, if any, the animal rights campaign had on red meat consumption. It may also be possible and useful to compare changes in weekly and daily purchases over time. Responses to surveys, which will include closed-ended questions in addition to one open-ended question (“What did you think about the ad?”), will be analyzed for quantitative or qualitative trends.

Timeline: Design, implementation and data analysis will be completed in the fall of 2010.

Budget: The Tulane student newspaper advertising rate is $917.00 for one half page color ad (Tulane Hullabaloo 2009:7). For a campaign of four ads over the course of one month, the total budget is $3668.00. Researchers will not receive compensation.

Anticipated Outcomes and Benefit: The habit of eating red meat is correlated with many of the largest killers of Americans. This study will provide data on a public health approach for decreasing red meat consumption that has not yet been researched. In addition, information on communication effectiveness will be beneficial for animal rights organizations.

American Heart Association website. “Vegetarian Diets.”
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American Institute for Cancer Research. “Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.”    nIdr00q3q8xo3ga5.app46a. Accessed February 16, 2010.
Cross, Amanda J, Michael F Leitzmann, Mitchell H Gail, Albert R Hollenbeck, Arthur     Schatzkin, and Rashmi Sinha. “A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in     Relation to Cancer Risk.” PLoS Medicine 4(12). December 2007.
Freeman, Carrie Packwood. “Struggling for Ideological Integrity in the Social Movement     Framing Process: How US Animal Rights Organizations Frame Values and Ethical     Ideology in Food Advocacy Communication.” Unpublished dissertation. University of     Oregon. June 2008.
Fox, Nick and Katie Ward. “Health, Ethics and Environment: A Qualitative Study of Vegetarian     Motivations.” Appetite 50(2-3):422 - 429. March/May 2008.
Jabs, Jennifer, Carol M Devine and Jeffery Sobal. “Model of the Process of Adopting Vegetarian     Diets: Health Vegetarians and Ethical Vegetarians.” Journal of Nutrition Education     30(4):196-202. July/August 1998.
Jasper, James M and Jane D Poulsen. “Recruiting Strangers and Friends: Moral Shocks and     Social Networks in Animal Rights and Anti-Nuclear Protests.” Social Problems     42(4):493-512. November 1995.
Lichtenstein, Alice H, et al. “Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Revision 2006: A Scientific     Statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee.” Circulation     114:82-96. 2006.
Lindeman, M and Väänänen, M. “Measurement of Ethical Food Choice Motives.” Appetite     34:55-59. 2000.
Mika, Marie. “Framing the Issue: Religion, Secular Ethics and the Case of Animal Rights     Mobilization.” Social Forces 85(2):915-942. December 2006.
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    universities/LA/Tulane_University_of_Louisiana.html. Accessed February 20, 2010.
Thorogood, M, J Mann, P Appleby and K McPherson. “Risk of Death from Cancer and     Ischaemic Heart Disease in Meat and Non-meat eaters.” British Medical Journal     308:1667-1670. June 25, 1994.
Tulane Hullabaloo. “Advertising.” Accessed February 22,     2010.
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    093.shtml. 2009a. Accessed February 20, 2010.
Tulane University. “A Comprehensive Guide to Undergraduate Financial Aid: 2009-2010.”
    Comprehensive%20Guide%20Info.pdf. 2009b.
Zuckerman, Phil. “Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science     Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions.” Sociology Compass 3(6):949-971.     2009.

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