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The relationship between student consumption of animal products and attitudes to animals in Europe and Asia

Izmirli, Serdar, Phillips, Clive J.C.
British food journal 2011 v.113 no.2-3 pp. 436-450
analysis of variance, animal experimentation, animal welfare, attitudes and opinions, beef, college students, humans, religion, surveys, universities, vegetarian diet, volunteers, wildlife, Asia, Eurasia, Europe
Purpose – This research aims to determine the relationship between the consumption of animal products and attitudes towards animals among university students in Eurasia. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted with collaborators in each country who supervised volunteers to personally invite 16,777 students to take part. The sample was composed of 3,433 students from 103 universities in 11 Eurasian countries. ANOVA was used to compare the responses. All analyses were conducted using the statistical packages Minitab 15 and SPSS 15. Findings – A total of 47 per cent of university students avoided some meat products, 4 per cent were vegetarians and 0.4 per cent vegans. Students avoiding some meat did so principally for environmental and health reasons, and beef and lamb were the meats most likely to be avoided. Vegetarians avoided meat mainly for health reasons. Vegans had greater concern about humans using animals than vegetarians, who in turn had greater concerns than those avoiding some meat. Social implications – Avoidance of animal products was related to an increased level of concern for animal rights, animal experimentation and wildlife, with vegans demonstrating the greatest concern. This implied that students' attitudes to animal welfare and rights can affect animal product-eating behaviours. Originality/value – This study conflicts with previous studies by demonstrating that health rather than environment was a major reason for vegetarianism. The study highlights the importance of environmental, health and welfare concerns but not religion in avoidance of animal products.