Communicating Sustainable Consumption?: How the Environmental Impact of Animal-Based Food Consumption is Expressed by Swedish Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: The demand and consumption of food products created by the livestock- and fishing industries, have a major environmental impact, affecting climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Yet, there seems to be a lack of public awareness of the direct impact one’s choice of food has on the environment, which suggests that more effective efforts are needed in order to introduce the concept to consumers. By the influence of a post-humanist perspective, this thesis investigates how the environmental impact of consuming animal-based food is communicated by Swedish environmental non-governmental organizations, and how the organizations are actively working to change consumers’ dietary habits by selecting more sustainable options. The research has focused on the external communication channels of the organizations, where verbiage and imagery have been analyzed in context, by using an analytical perspective of a constructionist view of communication, of where I acknowledge that communication has changed in our digital society. The findings indicated that the organizations are showing clear efforts and willingness of communicating the environmental impact of consuming animal-based food, although these efforts remain quite limited. The promotion of a plant-based diet as a way to help mitigate climate change was also communicated to a fair extent, but the organizations seemed to be privileging the preferences of consumers for animal-based food products over the actual need for them. Given that scientific evidence has shown that human consumption of animal-based food products has a major environmental impact, the overall produced knowledge by the organizations’ communication of consuming such products is still lacking. This suggests that more effective communication efforts are still needed, given the severity of the issue, which requires a drastic social change in eating habits as currently practiced in developed nations, in order to effectively mitigate climate change.

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