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Someone handing a plate of food including a burger and salad to a customer

A new study from our Department of Psychology has found that cigarette style graphic warning labels could reduce people’s meat consumption.

The research suggests the use of warning labels on meat options could improve public health and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint. 

Climate, health and pandemics 

Our researchers tested three labels warning people of the damage to either climate, health, or risk of pandemics. They found that all labels were effective at discouraging people from choosing meals with meat.  

All warning labels, which showed a graphic image alongside text, reduced meat meal selections by seven to 10 percent. However, people were most in favour of the climate warning labels which they also found the most credible.  

According to a recent YouGov poll, 72 per cent of the UK population classify themselves as meat eaters. The independent Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK government, recommends a 20 per cent reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030.  

Meal choices 

A representative sample of 1,001 meat-eating adults were split into four groups which were shown pictures of hot meals you might buy in a canteen which contained either a health warning label, climate warning label, pandemic warning label, or no label. 

They were asked to make 20 separate decisions on different meal choices and the team also asked how anxiety provoking and believable they found the labels.  

Future intentions to buy and eat the meal options, as well as how appealing the meals appeared, was measured. Participants also indicated how supportive they would be of the different labels if they were implemented as policy. 

Find out more 

Our Department of Psychology prides itself on being a collegiate and welcoming department, committed to success for all who work here. Through dedicated teaching sessions, an optional placement module, external speakers and even an employability retreat – we actively prepare students for working life.  

We are proud to be ranked as one of the Top 10 Psychology departments in the UK by The Complete University Guide 2022 and in the World Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.    

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