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How to persuade your friends to eat less meat?

A little moderation in your meat intake can reduce your carbon impact effectively. You realize that, but not your friends. Meat makes a hearty meal, but it is harmful to the environment.  A UK market research report says, nearly 29% of the evening meals in 2017 were without any meat or fish.

It may seem that meat dishes are slowly slipping off the table. A trend to switch over to non-meat dishes or vegetarian menus is growing.  Is this awareness enough to persuade friends to eat less meat?  Or there are more to be done?

Despite the reduced meat consuming tendency, scientists feel more people should join this trend which is essential to meet the environmental targets. A small secret to share – global switch to vegetarianism can cut the food-related carbon emission by roughly two-thirds. Isn’t it worthwhile to convince people go vegetarians?

7 ways to persuade friends to eat less meat:

eat less meat

It would be wrong to presume that persuading people to eat less meat is no brainer. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports of no such evidence that simply providing alarming information related to meat consumption and environmental change will make people jump to non-meat dishes.

Eating choices are rarely driven by rational thinking where most of the people are expected to think of the pros and cons before taking a bite. On the other hand, our routine eating choices are mainly impulse-driven. However, there are a few subtle psychological tricks that might help in persuading friends to eat less meat.

Pre-conformity to societal norms:

It is the human’s innate trait to conform to societal norms. Harnessing it can work in convincing people to eat less meat according to researchers. If you tell your friend or a customer that liking meatless options are being preferred more, he or she will likely follow suit.

Findings in one research indicate highlighting other people’s success citing their behavioral change can bring a similar change in the other. When your friend will see other people changing, he/she would envision a future with more different norms and the trend is likely to stay. So he/she will react to the anticipated future.

Offering non-meat preparations:

invite your friend to a restaurant

Next time you invite your friend to a restaurant, make sure to offer him/her non-meat preparation. Instead of labeling your menu as a strictly vegetarian, better to ask your friend, “Do you eat meat?”

The question is simple but a subtle psychological shift may occur driving your friend to pick non-meat preparations. This question gives a feel that choosing meat is not something normal or doesn’t sound right – just like smokers feel awkward when they are asked, “Do you smoke?” Science also says people are more likely to pick the first choice that is presented.  This trick might work.

Commitment campaigns:

Great campaigns like Meatless Mondays, Vegan Fridays and the like have worked. If you follow one such theme aiming to eat less meat, this may influence your friend as well.

Help in switching meat with something else:

switching meat with something else

Satisfying a voracious meat-eater with something else is not easy. But you can help in swapping meat with delicious big portion plant-based meals that will keep your friend full and satisfied. For example, if you are serving burrito, try refried beans in place of beef.

Bring in more creativity:

The best part of vegan dishes is that it allows you a lot of creativity. So if you want to persuade your meat-loving friend go vegetarian, stir in the best of your creativity in your menu. The more you flaunt your creativity, the more encouraging it will be for your friends to shun meat.

Linking with familiarity:

Linking with familiarity

Human beings are easily influenced by the person they like. Celebrity endorsed Go Vegetarian campaigns work better as the fans are likely to follow their way of life, including the food they eat. You can get some confirmed meat eaters like soccer players or sportsmen to talk of the benefits of eating less meat. You can also contact some glam world personalities to talk of how too much meat is not acceptable to them.

Breaking the habit:

A habit can be disrupted by altering the elements of the chain. Your friend craving for meat may have a habit of enjoying it with friends. Socialization is the ultimate reward that also satisfied his cravings.

You can enjoy the socialization part with your meat lover friend, but just remove the grilled meat burger and replace it with a tasty veggie burger. Your friend, for the sake of socialization, would consume less meat and develop a new habit.

Reminding of the connection:

source of meat

If you can help your friend recalling the real source of meat and how it is chopped and processed, the memory may create an aversion to it. According to research, if you present the image of pork roast with its head still attached to it might help a person to pick more plant-based options.

Opting for out-of-sight policy:

This will not only help your friend eat less meat, but will also be effective in larger communities as well. For example, in a student’s canteen, if vegetarian options are made more visible, naturally its consumption would be more.  In a small study with a buffet set up, it was found placing meat items at the end of the table reduced people’s meat intake. More studies still required to corroborate this finding.

The urgency towards reduced meat intake – combat global warming:

combat global warming

It is not a mere act of persuading a friend towards reduced meat consumption. Decades of campaigns to cut down meat consumption did not yield much.  Even though vegetarianism has been in the mainstream, there are not enough signs that more people are either quitting meat or reducing the intake.

On the contrary, data reveals that meat eating all over the world is steady. In the US, meat intake fell in 2008, but it is on the rise again. This tendency won’t prevent the disastrous effect of climate change.

Almost one-seventh of the human greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to meat and dairy production. If meat consumption is to maintain this trend, emission from livestock farming alone can raise global warming, even if other sources of emission are checked.

Therefore, merely switching from beef to chicken won’t help unless there is a dramatic reduction in meat eating. Technology alone cannot help much unless there are individual efforts. If you realize this, try to make your friend do the same.

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Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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