OPINIONFresh Food

The Food and Climate Connection Has to Happen

Most Americans think reducing meat means higher prices

The Lempert Report

The Earth Day Network and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that more than half of Americans are willing to eat more plant-based foods.

The majority of these people do not discuss the issue and even more alarming, they are not making the connection between food and global warming.

The report, titled Change and the American Diet, showed that the vast majority (94%) of U.S. consumers are willing to eat more fruit and vegetables, with 6 in 10 (62%) saying they are “very” willing.

But here is the problem, these surveyed shoppers underscore that there is a lack of information about the environmental impacts of their food choices.

  • Almost two-thirds of those surveyed report they have never been asked to eat more plant-based foods, and more than half rarely or never hear about the topic in the media.
  • More than half of the respondents said they think the production of beef, pork, dairy, and/or poultry contribute to global warming at least “a little,” but only about 1 in 4 Americans (27%) think that beef contributes “a lot.”
  • Only 17% of Americans think the production of dairy contributes “a lot” to global warming. More than 4 in 10 Americans think that beef does not contribute to global warming at all (23%) or do not know (20%). Furthermore, 23% think that dairy products do not contribute to global warming at all. 

Another important finding was that the perceived cost of vegan products hinders U.S. consumers from trying more plant products. Nearly half (49%) believe that a meal with a plant-based main course (fruit, vegetables, meat/dairy alternatives) is more expensive than a meat-based main course (beef, chicken, fish, etc.).

Only 14% think a plant-based main course is less expensive, and 63% would be willing to eat more plant-based foods in place of meat if the prices were lower than meat.

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