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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Impact of sustainability perception on consumption of organic meat and meat substitutes

Appetite Volume 132, 1 January 2019, Pages 196-202 Appetite Author links open overlay panelMichaelSiegristChristinaHartmann ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), Consumer Behavior, Universitätstrasse 22, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland Received 29 May 2018, Revised 27 August 2018, Accepted 19 September 2018, Available online 12 October 2018. crossmark-logo https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.09.016 Get rights and content Abstract Consumers' food selections have a large impact on the environment. In this study, we examined how consumers evaluated the environmental impact of various foods. Furthermore, we investigated whether the perceived environmental effect of foods, health consciousness, and food disgust sensitivity would be related to the consumption of meat substitutes and organic meat. We used data from the Swiss Food Panel 2.0 for our analyses (N = 5586 participants from the German- and French-speaking part of Switzerland). The participants mistakenly perceived the environmental impact of soy-based meat substitutes as similar to that of conventionally produced meat. The results suggested that consumers with low meat consumption, perceptions about the high environmental impact of meat, high health consciousness, low disgust sensitivity, and who were female, younger, and better educated were more likely to consume meat substitutes compared with people who had the opposite attributes. Perceived environmental impact of conventionally produced meat, health consciousness, being female, age, income, and education had a positive impact on consumption of organic meat. Disgust sensitivity had a negative effect. The relatively low negative correlation between meat and meat substitute consumption implies that the substitution effect may not be as large as hoped for in the transition to more sustainable food behavior. However, our results also indicate that increasing consumer knowledge about the environmental impact of foods may lead to more sustainable food consumption. Previous article in issue Next article in issue Keywords Sustainability Meat substitutes Organic meat Health consciousness Disgust 1. Introduction Consumers' food choices can have a large environmental impact. An estimated 20–30% of the environmental impact caused by European households is related to food consumption (Tukker & Jansen, 2006). How consumers evaluate the environmental impact of various foods and what factors may positively influence ecological food consumption are thus important research questions. From an environmental perspective, reduction in animal protein consumption would result in a substantially lower environmental impact of the diet (Tukker et al., 2011). Most consumers are unaware of the large environmental impact of meat consumption, however (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2017). Therefore, consumers may not realize how important the reduction of animal protein consumption is for a more sustainable diet. From a consumer perspective, consumption of organic foods is perceived as having a positive and substantial environmental impact (Lazzarini, Visschers, & Siegrist, 2017; Shi, Visschers, Bumann, & Siegrist, 2018; Siegrist, Visschers, & Hartmann, 2015). Consumers who are aware of the environmental impact of their food consumption may thus purchase organic foods more often compared with consumers who are unaware that their food behavior has negative environmental consequences. In the present study, we aim to examine how consumers assess the environmental impact of various foods and how these perceptions influence two strategies that consumers may choose to reduce the environmental impact of their food consumption, namely, consumption of meat substitutes and organic meat. The results of various studies suggest consumers' difficulties in estimating the environmental impact of foods (Lea & Worsley, 2008; Tobler, Visschers, & Siegrist, 2011). A general finding is that the detrimental environmental effect of meat and dairy products is substantially underestimated (de Boer, Schösler, & Aiking, 2014; Siegrist et al., 2015; Tobler et al., 2011; Vanhonacker, Van Loo, Gellynck, & Verbeke, 2013). Consumers' perceptions of the environmental impact of various protein-rich foods are only moderately correlated with the impact calculated with an objective measure, that is, life-cycle analysis (LCA) (Lazzarini, Zimmermann, Visschers, & Siegrist, 2016). The results further indicate that consumers evaluate plant-based proteins as more environmentally friendly compared with meat products, but the difference is underestimated. Various studies find that the organic production method is perceived as more sustainable compared with conventional production methods (Lazzarini et al., 2016, 2017; Shi et al., 2018). The country of origin also strongly influences consumers' perception about the environmental impact of foods. Swiss consumers more positively evaluate Swiss foods compared with imported products (Lazzarini et al., 2017; Shi et al., 2018). Consumers base their evaluation on distance, not the mode of transportation, and the interaction between seasonality and the origin of the product is also not considered (Shi et al., 2018). The environmental burden of animal protein production varies by animal type (de Vries & de Boer, 2010) and the livestock system used (Herrero et al., 2015). Despite this variance, there is agreement that a reduction in consumption of animal-based proteins would be beneficial for biodiversity, land and water use, as well as the climate (Aiking, 2011). One of the different ways of reducing consumption of animal-based proteins is to substitute meat with plant-based alternatives. This strategy's advantage is that meals do not need to be completely changed, but meat is just replaced by a product that mimics the sensory properties of meat (e.g., pieces of Quorn that look similar to chicken nuggets). Meat substitutes could be especially useful for reducing the meat consumption of people who regularly do so but are willing to cut down on it. Nonetheless, only a limited number of studies have examined the prevalence of the consumption of meat substitutes and its influencing factors (de Boer & Aiking, 2011; de Boer et al., 2014; Elzerman, Hoek, van Boekel, & Luning, 2015; Hoek et al., 2011; Hoek, Luning, Stafleu, & de Graaf, 2004). The results of studies conducted in the Netherlands suggest that only a minority of consumers frequently buy meat substitutes and that the majority never purchase such products (de Boer et al., 2014; Hoek et al., 2004). The amount of meat consumption and familiarity with meat substitutes influence the consumption of meat substitutes. A higher number of meat-eating days is associated with a lower frequency of consuming meat substitutes (de Boer & Aiking, 2011). Familiarity with meat substitutes and low levels of food neophobia (i.e., the tendency to reject unfamiliar food) have a positive effect on consumers' intentions to eat meat substitutes more frequently in the near future (Hoek et al., 2011). Health consciousness does not differ between consumers and non-consumers of meat substitutes, however (Hoek et al., 2004). Consumers who strongly endorse the value of care for nature are more likely to prefer plant-based meat substitutes over meat than consumers who show less endorsement of this value (de Boer & Aiking, 2011). Given the higher meat consumption of males compared with females, unsurprisingly, females have a stronger preference for meat substitutes compared with males (de Boer & Aiking, 2011; de Boer et al., 2014). Similarly, better-educated consumers more strongly favor meat substitutes compared with their less-educated counterparts (de Boer & Aiking, 2011; de Boer et al., 2014). Organic products may not only have a positive environmental effect (Meier et al., 2015) because less pesticides are used, for example, but consumers also perceive these foods as healthier and having more nutritional value and better sensory properties (Schleenbecker & Hamm, 2013). Therefore, besides environmental motives, health concerns are important drivers for the purchase of organic foods (Hemmerling, Hamm, & Spiller, 2015; Hughner, McDonagh, Prothero, Schultz II, & Stanton, 2007). It is even argued that health is the primary reason why consumers buy organic foods (Hughner et al., 2007). This conclusion may be an oversimplification because previous studies' results differ considerably. Some research hardly finds any influence of environmental motives on the frequency of purchasing organic foods (Magnusson, Arvola, Hursti, Aberg, & Sjoden, 2003); other studies show ecological motives as important (Teng & Lu, 2016). The latter study finds that both health consciousness and ecological motives have a direct impact on the level of involvement with organic foods, as well as an indirect effect on the intention to purchase organic foods. It is argued that environmental and health consciousness are often correlated; therefore, it may be difficult to decide whether health or environmental motives are more important (Schifferstein & Oude Ophuis, 1998). A personality variable that has not been included in past studies—but may have an impact on the consumption of meat substitutes and organic foods—is food disgust sensitivity (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2018). Consumers want neither pesticides nor pests and mold in their food. The former may evoke health concerns, and the latter two may elicit disgust. Food disgust-sensitive persons react with aversion to and rejection of certain food cues that indicate decaying processes, contamination, or animal origin (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2018). Food disgust sensitivity shapes people's food behavior. For example, high food disgust sensitivity is associated with more production of domestic food waste (Egolf, Siegrist, & Hartmann, 2018) and a reluctance to eat chocolate with mealworms on top, for example (Ammann, Hartmann, & Siegrist, 2018). Moreover, purchase intention is lower for ugly-shaped foods when they are labeled organic than when they are not labeled (Loebnitz, Schuitema, & Grunert, 2015). People with high disgust sensitivity may be concerned that organic food production may result in lower food quality (e.g., ugly-shaped foods) and safety problems (e.g., a higher likelihood of food contamination with pests) because certain protective food and plant treatments are not used. However, a positive association between disgust sensitivity and consumption of organic products is also plausible because synthetic chemicals that may be perceived as unnatural are used less. Disgust could also have a negative effect on the acceptance of meat substitutes. The impact could be detrimental because meat substitutes are novel foods for many consumers. The alternative hypothesis that people with high disgust sensitivity find meat substitutes less repulsive than meat that is an animal reminder cannot be ruled out, however. The influence of disgust on consumption of organic foods and meat substitutes had not been examined in previous research, to the best of our knowledge. Therefore, the impact of disgust sensitivity on meat substitute consumption and organic meat consumption was exploratively examined in our study. In the present study, we examined how consumers assessed various foods' negative impact on the environment. We hypothesized that participants who perceived animal proteins as having a large impact on the environment would more likely consume meat substitutes compared with participants who believed that animal proteins had a lower environmental effect. Consumers who perceived soy-based meat substitutes as having a low environmental impact should show a higher consumption of such products compared with consumers who hold the opposite view. Furthermore, we predicted that the perception about the environmental impact of conventionally and organically produced meat would be associated with the purchase of organic meat. Furthermore, we examined whether disgust sensitivity would be associated with the consumption of organic meat and meat substitutes. Health consciousness had been found as an important factor for the purchase of organic foods but not meat substitutes. This personality variable was included in our analyses to predict acceptance of organic meat and meat substitutes. Regarding sociodemographic variables, we hypothesized that women and young and better-educated consumers eat meat substitutes and organic meat more often compared with consumers who have the opposite attributes. Organic meat, but not meat substitutes, are more expensive than conventionally produced meat. Therefore, we expected income to influence consumption of organically produced meat but not meat substitutes. 2. Method 2.1. Participants The data collection for the longitudinal study started in the spring of 2017. Mail surveys were sent to a sample of residents of the German- and French-speaking part of Switzerland, most of whom were randomly selected from the phone book. To increase the percentage of younger people (who are often not registered in the phone book), some additional addresses of people aged between 20 and 30 were obtained from an address company. Overall, 5781 people completed the questionnaire (25.1% response rate). The participants with missing information about their gender and age and those who completed less than 50% of the questionnaire were excluded from the analysis. Thus, 5586 participants remained in the final sample. The proportion of males was 48%, the mean age was 56 years (SD = 17), and 72% (n = 4014) were German speaking. Concerning age, the study sample was not fully representative of the general Swiss population (Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 2016); the young adult group between 20 and 39 years old was underrepresented at 17% (census: 33.4%). 2.2. Material and procedure This study is based on the data from the first wave of the Swiss Food Panel 2.0, a longitudinal study about the dietary behavior of the Swiss population. The Food Panel 2.0, which follows the Food Panel 1.0 (2010–2014), is based on a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. It includes a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), psychological constructs, questions about various food decisions, and sociodemographic variables. Most, but not all, of the constructs used in the Food Panel 2.0 differ from those in the previous version (Hartmann, Dohle, & Siegrist, 2014). Completely different questions related to sustainability perception and behavior are used in Swiss Food Panel 2.0 compared with the previous version (Siegrist et al., 2015; Tobler et al., 2011). The participants evaluated various foods with regard to the following question: “The production of food may have a negative impact on the environment. How do you assess this for the following foods?” The foods were conventionally produced meat, cheese, organically produced meat, organically produced vegetables, seasonal vegetables, imported vegetables flown in by plane, soy-based meat substitutes, fish from wild catch, and fish from aquaculture. The participants could indicate the environmental impact on a scale ranging from 1 = “no impact on the environment at all” to 7 = “large impact on the environment.” Only the two extreme points of the scale were verbally anchored; the other response categories were only numerically anchored. A self-reported semiquantitative FFQ was used to assess the participants' dietary habits (Hu et al., 2016). For a whole range of foods and beverages (e.g., fruits and vegetables, dairy products, starchy foods, meat and fish, meat substitute products, sweets and savories, soft drinks and alcohol), the participants had to indicate how often they consumed a predefined standard portion (e.g., 100–120 g of chicken breast, one sausage). The response categories ranged from “four or more portions per day” to “rarely/never” (nine response categories in total). For further analyses, the nine response options were recoded to reflect the number of standard portions consumed per week (e.g., “2 portions per day” was coded as 14 portions per week, “2–3 portions per week” was coded as 3 portions per week). The FFQ items related to the consumption of meat (six items) and meat substitutes (two items) were analyzed. A plausibility check indicated that for total meat consumption, some participants reported implausibly high consumption, which was consequently set to an upper limit of 35 portions per week. For meat substitutes, weekly portions above 7 were recoded as 7. The frequency of purchasing organic meat was measured with the following question: “How often do you purchase the following organic products?” The possible response options were “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes,” “often,” and “always.” For further analyses, the responses were coded with integers ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The respondents' health consciousness was measured with four items: (1) “I think it is important to eat healthily.” (2) “My health is dependent on how and what I eat.” (3) “If one eats healthily, one gets ill less frequently.” (4) “I am prepared to leave a lot [of food] to eat as healthily as possible.” These items were partially based on Schifferstein and Oude Ophuis (1998) health consciousness scale. The response options on a 7-point scale ranged from 1 (do not agree at all) to 7 (totally agree). The diet-related health consciousness scale was used in former studies (Hartmann et al., 2014; Siegrist et al., 2015). The present study yielded the following results: M = 19.90, SD = 4.74, and Cronbach's α = 0.78. The eight-item short version of the Food Disgust Scale was used to assess the participants' food disgust sensitivity (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2018), that is, the predisposition to experience disgust when confronted with certain potentially disgust-eliciting cues. The participants had to indicate the degree of disgust they felt regarding various food products or consumption situations (e.g., eating hard cheese from which the moldy part was cut off, eating with dirty silverware in a restaurant). The response options on a 6-point scale ranged from 1 (not disgusting at all) to 6 (extremely disgusting). The results were as follows: M = 28.66, SD = 8.03, and Cronbach's α = 0.78. Various sociodemographic variables were measured. Gender, age, income, and education were relevant to our analysis. Household income was measured by providing six categories from which each participant could select the one that best fit his or her household income: less than CHF 3000 (US $ 3000), coded as 1; CHF 3001–5,000, coded as 2; CHF 5001–7,000, coded as 3; CHF 7001–9,000, coded as 4; CHF 9001–11,000, coded as 5; and more than CHF 11,000, coded as 6. Lastly, the level of education was measured and grouped into three categories: low (primary and secondary school or no education), medium (vocational school, high school), and high (applied university, university). The responses were coded with integers ranging from 1 to 3. 3. Results 3.1. Perceived environmental impact Fig. 1 shows the mean values and the 95% confidence intervals of the perceived environmental impacts of the nine food categories. Imported vegetables flown in by plane were perceived as having the highest environmental impact. The second highest value was observed for conventionally produced meat. Interestingly, soy-based meat substitutes had a mean value (M = 4.65, SD = 1.57) that was similar to that of conventionally produced meat (M = 4.82, SD = 1.80). In contrast, organically produced meat (M = 3.55, SD = 1.60) was viewed as having much less environmental impact compared with conventionally produced meat or meat substitutes. Organically produced vegetables and seasonal vegetables were regarded as having the lowest environmental impact. Fig. 1 Download high-res image (266KB)Download full-size image Fig. 1. Perceived environmental impact of various foods. Means and 95% CIs are shown (1 = no impact, 7 = large impact). There were substantial correlations among the nine items. Therefore, a principal component analysis was conducted. Based on the scree-plot, the eigenvalues, and the interpretability, a solution with three components was selected. The three components had an eigenvalue larger than 1 and explained 66% of the variance. Table 1 shows the factor loadings after a Varimax rotation. The three items related to organic or seasonal production had high loadings on the first factor. The meat and dairy-related items loaded high on the second factor. However, it should be noted that the organically produced meat loaded relatively high on both factors. Food imports flown in by plane, soy-based meat substitutes, and fish had high loadings on the third factor. These items under different food categories may have the common factor of often being transported from long distances. For ease of interpretation of the subsequent analyses, we did not use the factor scores or aggregated items but single items. Table 1. Results of the sustainability questions subjected to a principal component analysis. Factor loadings after a Varimax rotation are shown. Environmental impact: organic/seasonal products Environmental impact: meat/dairy Environmental impact: vegetables flown in by plane/soy/fish Conventionally produced meat 0.10 0.89 0.21 Cheese 0.15 0.86 0.17 Organically produced meat 0.69 0.49 0.11 Organically produced vegetables 0.90 0.12 0.15 Seasonal vegetables 0.85 0.03 0.11 Vegetables flown in by plane −0.08 0.14 0.76 Soy-based meat substitutes 0.14 −0.01 0.78 Fish from wild catch 0.23 0.24 0.50 Fish from aquaculture 0.21 0.30 0.52 Note. Loadings >0.40 are shown in bold. N = 5036. 3.2. Consumption of meat substitutes Most people rarely or never eat meat substitutes (77%, N = 4213). Among the respondents, 12% (N = 642) reported eating meat substitutes 1–3 times per month, 6% (N = 328) consumed them once a week on average, and only 5.5% (N = 303) did so more often than once a week on average. Therefore, we calculated a dummy variable with values of 0 (no consumption) and 1 (consumption). Unless indicated otherwise, the dichotomized variable was used for the subsequent analyses. Table 2 presents the correlations among the perceived environmental impact of conventionally produced meat, organically produced meat, and soy-based meat substitutes with the consumption of meat and meat substitutes. The perceived environmental impact of meat was negatively correlated with meat consumption (r = −0.22, p < 0.001) and positively correlated with consumption of meat substitutes (r = 0.26, p < 0.001). These results support the assumption that people who are aware that meat consumption has a large negative impact on the environment are more likely to eat less meat and more meat substitutes compared with people who lack such knowledge. If consumption of meat substitutes results in reduced consumption of meat, a negative correlation between consumption of meat substitutes and consumption of meat would be expected. The observed correlation is in line with this assumption (r = −0.18, p < 0.001). Because a large number of the participants indicated that they had never consumed meat substitutes, we calculated the rank correlation between the frequency of meat consumption and the frequency of meat substitute consumption for the sample of participants who had consumed meat substitutes at least 1–3 times per month (N = 1273). For this subsample, a significant negative correlation was also observed (rs = −0.26, p < 0.001, N = 1260). As expected, health consciousness was positively correlated with consumption of meat substitutes (r = 0.15, p < 0.001). Confirming our prediction, disgust was negatively correlated with consumption of meat substitutes (r = −0.07, p < 0.001). However, this relationship was rather weak. Table 2. Correlations between purchasing organic foods and perception about the environmental impact of different food categories, health consciousness, disgust, and consumption of meat substitutes. Measure 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1. Environmental impact: Conventionally produced meat 2. Environmental impact: Organically produced meat 0.51* 3. Environmental impact: Soy-based meat substitutes 0.20* 0.20* 4. Health consciousness 0.16* 0.03 0.06* 5. Food disgust sensitivity −0.13* −0.08* −0.08* 0.09* 6. Meat consumption −0.22* −0.10* −0.03 −0.19* −0.03 7. Meat substitute consumptiona 0.26* 0.14* −0.03 0.15* −0.07* −0.18* 8. Purchase of organic meat 0.32* 0.08* 0.13* 0.16* −0.12* −0.09* 0.14* Note: *p < 0.001. N varies between 5454 and 5111 due to missing values. a Dummy coded variable: 0 = no consumption, 1 = consumption. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict whether or not the participants would consume meat substitutes. The results shown in Table 3 suggest that people with low meat consumption, perceptions about the high environmental impact of meat, perceptions about the low environmental impact of soy-based meat substitutes, high health consciousness, low disgust sensitivity, and who were female, younger, and better educated were more likely to consume meat substitutes compared with people who had the opposite attributes. The perception about the environmental impact of organically produced meat was not a significant predictor. The Nagelkerke pseudo R2 value was 0.21. The most important predictors for the consumption of meat substitutes were perceived environmental impact of meat, soy-based meat substitutes, and gender. The other significant predictors had less explanatory power.1 Table 3. Results of the logistic regression analysis with consumption of meat substitutes as dependent variable. Variable B SE B OR Constant −2.48 0.36 0.084** Meat consumption −0.06 0.01 0.939** Environmental impact: Conventionally produced meat 0.30 0.03 1.344** Environmental impact: Organically produced meat 0.05 0.03 1.056 Environmental impact: Soy-based meat substitutes −0.18 0.03 0.834** Health consciousness 0.07 0.01 1.076** Food disgust sensitivity −0.02 0.01 0.986* Gendera 0.46 0.08 1.589** Age −0.02 0.002 0.981** Education 0.23 0.06 1.260** Note: Nagelkerke R2 = 0.21. *p < 0.01, **p < 0.001. a Dummy coded gender: 0 = male, 1 = female. 3.3. Purchase of organic meat Table 2 shows the correlations between the frequency of purchasing organic meat and the perception about the environmental impact of different food categories, health consciousness, disgust, and consumption of meat substitutes. The participants who perceived a higher environmental impact of meat and soy-based meat substitutes were more likely to buy organic meat compared with the participants who perceived a lower environmental impact of the cited categories. Health-conscious people were more likely to purchase organic meat compared with people who reported lower concerns about their health. People who scored high on the food disgust sensitivity scale purchased organic meat less often than people with less disgust sensitivity. Only a small effect was observed for the perceived environmental impact of organic meat. People who perceived organic meat as having a high environmental impact purchased it less often compared with people who had the opposite perception. The impact of various predictors on the frequency of purchasing organic meat was examined by utilizing a linear regression analysis. Table 4 shows the variables included in the model. The proposed model was significant (F(8,4853 = 115.92, p < 0.001) and explained 16% of the variance. The results shown in Table 4 suggest that the perceived environmental impact of conventionally produced meat, health consciousness, being female and older, and having a higher income and higher education had a positive effect on the frequency of purchasing organic meat. The perceived environmental impact of organically produced meat and disgust sensitivity negatively influenced the frequency of purchasing this food item. The most important predictor was clearly the perceived environmental impact of conventionally produced meat. Table 4. Results of the linear regression analysis with purchase of organic meat as dependent variable. Variable B SE B β Constant 0.72 0.13 Environmental impact: Conventionally produced meat 0.22 0.01 0.31* Environmental impact: Organically produced meat −0.08 0.01 −0.11* Health consciousness 0.03 0.004 0.10* Food disgust sensitivity −0.01 0.002 −0.08* Gendera 0.18 0.03 0.07* Age 0.004 0.001 0.06* Income 0.10 0.01 0.13* Education 0.17 0.03 0.09* Note: R2 = 0.16. *p < 0.001. a Dummy coded gender: 0 = male, 1 = female. 4. Discussion How consumers evaluate the environmental impact of various foods is not completely wrong but is biased in some aspects. Transportation by plane was perceived as having the highest environmental impact, in line with a previous study's finding (Siegrist et al., 2015). The production method (i.e., organic/conventional) strongly affected the perceived environmental impact of the foods, which was also observed in previous research (Lazzarini et al., 2016). A rather surprising result was the participants' perception of the environmental impact of soy-based meat substitutes as similar to that of conventionally produced meat. One possible explanation for this biased perception could be that soy production has been a major driver of deforestation in Brazil (Gollnow & Lakes, 2014). Therefore, consumers may associate all soy products, without differentiating between soy as food and soy as feed, with a negative environmental impact. This is a biased perception because soy used to feed animals for meat production causes a large environmental burden, but this is not the case of soy processed as plant protein for human consumption (Smetana, Mathys, Knoch, & Heinz, 2015). Such a misconception regarding the environmental impact of plant proteins may be an important barrier to the acceptance of meat substitutes. Swiss consumers who regularly consumed meat substitutes comprised a small segment. This finding confirms other countries' research results indicating that the majority of consumers never buy such products (de Boer et al., 2014; Hoek et al., 2004). Meat substitutes can be consumed to replace or supplement meat. In the latter case, novel protein products may not decrease the demand for animal proteins but result in a market extension of protein-rich foods. From a sustainability perspective, this would not be a desirable development. If meat substitutes actually reduce meat consumption, a negative correlation between meat consumption and consumption of meat substitutes would be expected. We noted such a negative correlation in this study, in line with a past study's finding that the number of meat-eating days was associated with low consumption of meat substitutes (de Boer & Aiking, 2011). However, the low correlation observed in our study also suggests that the substitution effect may not be as large as hoped for in the transition to more sustainable food behavior. Our findings are based on cross-sectional data. Longitudinal data would be needed to gain a better understanding of the possible impact of the consumption of meat substitutes on the amount of meat consumed. Only if the consumption of meat substitutes results in a lower demand for meat will meat substitutes contribute to more sustainable nutrition behavior. The importance of environmental motives for sustainable food consumption has been questioned, and health motives have been emphasized (Hemmerling et al., 2015; Hughner et al., 2007). In this study, we did not use motives related to the purchase or the consumption of specific food categories or the production method to predict consumers' self-reported behavior. We examined whether consumers' health consciousness and perception of the environmental impact of meat would affect the frequency of consuming meat substitutes and the frequency of purchasing organically produced meat. The two behaviors were selected because the reduction of meat consumption is the behavior change with the largest environmental impact (de Boer & Aiking, 2011). The environmental impact of organically produced meat is less clear and not always positive (Jungbluth, Tietje, & Scholz, 2000) but easy for consumers to implement it. They pay more for organic meat but do not need to change the preparation or the composition of their meals because the same foods can be replaced by foods produced with a different method. For both food behaviors examined in this study, health consciousness and perceived environmental impact of conventionally produced meat had a positive impact on sustainable food consumption. Furthermore, the results suggest that a stronger effect of perceived environmental impact than that of health consciousness, complementing the findings of earlier studies. Nonetheless, contrary to past research (Hoek et al., 2004), we found that health consciousness had a positive influence on the consumption of meat substitutes. Additionally, perceived environmental impact of foods had a stronger association with sustainable food consumption than expected based on previous studies (Hemmerling et al., 2015; Hughner et al., 2007). These findings' implications are that increasing consumer knowledge about the environmental impact of meat may not be a lost cause but may result in more sustainable consumption. Nonetheless, the results also suggest that emphasizing the consumption of organic foods may be a double-edged sword. Consumers may get the impression that paying slightly more for organic products is sufficient, and they may underestimate the environmental friendliness of plant proteins compared with organic meat. Disgust sensitivity has been shown to influence acceptance of gene technology (Scott, Inbar, & Rozin, 2016). Gene technology can be viewed as a type of contamination because genes from one species may be used to alter the genotype of another species. In our study, we found very small correlations between food disgust sensitivity and consumption of meat substitutes, as well as the frequency of purchasing organic meat. Disgust sensitivity is a protective factor against the risk of disease (Curtis, de Barra, & Aunger, 2011). The concept of not using synthetic chemicals may evoke the idea of food contamination with bacteria, for example. Organic foods are perceived as much more natural compared with genetically modified (GM) foods (Roman, Sanchez-Siles, & Siegrist, 2017). People with high disgust sensitivity may associate naturalness with dirt and bacterial contamination. It is therefore somewhat ironic that disgust sensitivity has a negative impact on acceptance of GM foods and organic foods. Future research will hopefully provide further insights about the relationship between consumers' sustainability knowledge in the food domain and their food behavior. In our study, we used simple questions to measure consumers' perception of the environmental impact of various food products. This approach is similar to those of the studies that examined how consumers perceived the environmental impact of their food behavior (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2017). Future research should develop a scale that measures consumer knowledge regarding the environmental impact of various food products. To the best of our knowledge, such a scale is missing although a number of knowledge scales have been proposed in the nutrition domain (Motteli, Keller, Siegrist, Barbey, & Bucher, 2016; Spronk, Kullen, Burdon, & O'Connor, 2014). Experimental studies could also be valuable because they may provide additional insights about the causal relationships between knowledge and sustainable food behavior. Some limitations of our study should be mentioned. The data from the large-scale survey that we used pertained only to consumers in the German- and French-speaking part of Switzerland. Future research should show how generalizable the findings are to consumers in other countries. The participants in our sample were also slightly older and better educated than the general Swiss population. We have no indication that these factors resulted in biased estimates because we controlled for various sociodemographic variables, but the observed effects could be slightly different in the general population. Strictly speaking, the study design allowed only the observation of associations, not causal relationships. Longitudinal studies would be helpful to gain a better understanding of the effect of increasing the consumption of meat substitutes on consumers' food behavior. Knowledge may not automatically have a positive impact on people's food behavior. However, it has been shown that nutrition knowledge is associated with healthier food behavior (Motteli, Barbey, Keller, Bucher, & Siegrist, 2016; Spronk et al., 2014). In our study, we found that the perceived environmental impact of foods also influenced consumers' food behavior. These findings suggest that increasing public knowledge about the environmental impact of various foods may have a positive effect on the sustainability of consumers' food choices. Food decisions are obviously influenced by a broad set of factors (Renner, Sproesser, Strohbach, & Schupp, 2012; Steptoe, Pollard, & Wardle, 1995). As a result, there is no silver bullet for increasing the sustainability of consumers' food choices, but various measures need to be implemented. One of the many measures that would be needed could be the provision of knowledge about the environmental consequences of various food choices. Not every consumer will change his or her behavior, but some will. References Aiking, 2011 H. 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