People Buy Less Meat Thanks to Animal Welfare News Coverage

A new study shows that news coverage of animal welfare issues reduces demand for meat.

Researchers studied news trends and spending habits from 1999 to 2008 and found that increased coverage of animal welfare issues reduced consumer demand for poultry and pork.  The researchers, Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University and Nicole Olynk of Purdue University, published their study in the Journal of Agricultural Economics.

The one outlier was that beef sales were ostensibly unaffected by news coverage. It’s difficult to say why beef sales, specifically, had no noticeable reaction to the media.

Both researchers say that if stories about the cruel nature of factory farming had not received as much media attention during that period, U.S. demand for pork would have been 2.65 percent higher, and demand for poultry would have been 5.01 percent higher. These decreases coincided with increased media coverage of battery cages and gestation crates.

Battery cages are cages into which egg-laying hens are crammed, and gestation crates are tiny enclosures where breeding sows are kept while they are pregnant. These issues are exceptionally disturbing practices of the factory-farming industry and have received a lot of news attention in the past few years.

It’s encouraging to see that people’s propensity for eating meat can be changed by exposing them to relevant information. However, it is discouraging to imagine how much more could be done if the media offered a more thorough, consistent, and morally justifiable approach to animal rights coverage.

The majority of media attention paid to animal rights issues follows the same script: 1. Focus on a single issue. 2. Consulting ‘advocates’ from large organizations that use single-issue campaigns as a way to generate funds for their groups. 3. Offering “humane-washed” alternatives to offending animal products and avoiding the topic of veganism altogether.

If the media focused instead on the fact that all forms of animal exploitation were cruel instead of only addressing single-issue campaigns, we could create a real paradigm shift in the American consciousness.

Until the mainstream media starts to offer a real solution to problems of animal exploitation, it is the duty of each one of us to educate the people around us, one at a time if necessary. If large animal advocacy groups are afraid to advocate for veganism, then we have to advocate for it ourselves.

Boycott all companies and products that exploit animals. And advocate for veganism among your friends and see if we can’t make a bigger change in people’s spending habits than the mainstream media can.

Photo: Public Domain. Author: Michael W. Pendergrass


William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Interesting, thank you.

denise h.
denise hite7 years ago

at least its an encouraging start in the right direction

Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith7 years ago

I'm not perfect I admit that. But I try. I eat free range organice eggs and poulty, and wild caught fish. I've been looking for a producer of grass fed beef but yet to find one, so I simply don't eat beef or pork, or such. I get turkey 3-4 times a year when the stores around here sell free ranged turkeys that aren't raised on anitibotics.

I do not eat anything that's factory farmed, which means when I go out, i stick to vegitarian or vegan options because the fish is farmed, as is the poultry.

I'd go fully vegetarian, but due to heath issues and family issues it wouldn't work too well. I've tried, and it just didn't work for me. But I do cut back, I go 2, or 3 days a week without eating meat. And when I eat meat, it's not a lot of it, as it's mostly veggies I eat.

So I admit, I'm not perfect, but I try. And I've actually gotten my faimly to at least eat free ranged turkey and chicken over factory farmed sutff, even though I can't get the men in our house to give up steak.

Lyssa C.
Lyssa C7 years ago

Cool :)

Ana F.
Ana F7 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 8 years ago

Please watch and and go vegan.

Arthur Killings
Arthur Killings8 years ago

Disease & pollution would definitely take a nose dive! It would be great for the environment.

Cath Bono
Kate A8 years ago

I have been buying/eating less meat since learning about animal welfare issues. We have reduced our intake of meat to once a week, we buy organic, we always buy locally grown produce/fruit when available, and don't buy anything that's tested on animals.

Harley S.
gini d8 years ago

Glad to see the impact the media had there! I hope they grab hold of this and let it all out! I am sure they are cautious, because they are not sure how it will effect their rankings, - The media wants what sells, and this could be iffy territory for many tv stations, but in reality, it WILL sell! it is BIG news! it effects the entire world!
So GO FOR IT MEDIA monsters! GET that news on the tube! LET the world know the Truth of what happens to caged hens, veil cows, factory farms, the pigs, and the disgusting stun gun slaughter house! This is So newsworthy, for health reasons as well as the obvious Animal Cruelty issues! Let's all hope we start seeing more and more on TV, and yes it is up to us to keep the word moving! keep talking about it, sharing it, and Groups like PETA , Farm Sanctuary, and Humane Farming org.and many others will all be helping us! I am ALL FOR HUMANE FARMING!! God bless our animals :)