Students Eat Less Meat After Studying Meat Ethics

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (1):113-138 (2023)
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In the first controlled, non-self-report studies to show an influence of university-level ethical instruction on everyday behavior, Schwitzgebel et al. (2020) and Jalil et al. (2020) found that students purchase less meat after exposure to material on the ethics of eating meat. We sought to extend and conceptually replicate this research. Seven hundred thirty students in three large philosophy classes read James Rachels’ (2004) “Basic Argument for Vegetarianism”, followed by 50-min small-group discussions. Half also viewed a vegetarianism advocacy video containing factory farm footage. A few days after instruction, 54% of students agreed that “eating the meat of factory farmed animals is unethical”, compared to 37% before instruction, with no difference between the film and non-film conditions. Also, 39% of students anonymously pledged to avoid eating factory farmed meat for 24 h, again with no statistically detectable difference between conditions. Finally, we obtained 2828 campus food purchase receipts for 113 of the enrolled students who used their Student ID cards for purchases on campus, which we compared with 5033 purchases from a group of 226 students who did not receive the instruction. Meat purchases remained constant in the comparison group and declined among the students exposed to the material, falling from 30% to 23% of purchases overall and from 51% to 42% of purchases of $4.99 or more, with the effect possibly larger in the film condition.



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Author Profiles

Bradford Cokelet
University of Kansas
Eric Schwitzgebel
University of California, Riverside

Citations of this work

Why use generic language in science?Olivier Lemeire - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
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The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.
Animal Liberation.Bill Puka & Peter Singer - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (4):557.
Fellow Creatures. Our Obligations to the Other Animals.Christine M. Korsgaard - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 73 (1):165-168.
What Is a Replication?Edouard Machery - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (4):545-567.

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