New Research Finds People Are Reducing Consumption of Animal Products Due to COVID-19

Mercy For Animals values using research to inform and guide our mission to change the food system and strengthen our messaging around animal agriculture. In light of the attention the pandemic has brought to our food system, we recently completed an ambitious project, asking 500 people in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, India, and China about their attitudes and behaviors regarding farmed animal issues in the COVID-19 context. We wanted to see whether the focus on pandemics had changed how people looked at our food system and, more specifically, the choice to consume animal products.

The results were outstanding! We found that people in all five countries had reduced their consumption of animal products because of COVID-19. The most common reasons for the reduction were safety and health. For example, one respondent explained, “I am trying my best to avoid products that COVID-19 can spread through.” Another said, “Meat factories are incubators for spread.”

Here are three key takeaways particularly useful for animal advocates:

1. People are reducing their intake of animal products during this time. In every country we surveyed, more than a quarter of respondents reported reducing their intake of animal products since the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition, concern over safety emerged as the most common reason among participants in every country. These findings suggest that animal advocates are in a particularly good position to promote plant-based alternatives at this time. As eating patterns and habits are disrupted, we can showcase the many new products in the plant-based sector and share our positive experience with people who are now more likely to try them.

2. Many people make the connection between pandemics and animal agriculture. In the United States, Brazil, China, and India, 50 percent or more of respondents saw a connection between pandemics and raising animals for food. With this in mind, we can be confident that promoting plant-based food to protect global human health will be met with greater acceptance. Including evidence from well-respected sources on the topic will strengthen your argument. NPR’s coverage of a new United Nations report on animal-borne diseases is a good example.

3. There is widespread support for a coalition working to advance a food system more focused on plant-based food. In Brazil, China, India, and Mexico, the average level of support for such a coalition was 75 percent or greater. This is exciting news for the future of plant-based foods! The pandemic has given us the opportunity to think about our issues more broadly and deeply. Now is the time to shape our role in a larger dialogue about improving the food system worldwide. When we join with other voices, the tide will turn more quickly.

For more information about the connection between pandemics and factory farming, check out the recently published article by Mercy For Animals president Leah Garcés.

This research heralds a positive future for our work for farmed animals. While we help those around us envision a more sustainable and just food system, we can take individual action now by choosing plant-based foods. Get your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today.