Considering how farm animal concerns may contribute to more sustainable diets

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This paper investigates how consumers can be guided towards healthy diets from sustainable and more animal-friendly food systems, in times when no single food system can be considered the best. In order to provide an alternative, the paper focuses on how farm animal welfare concerns can be translated into potential consumer goals, inspired by the “Three Rs” principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, originally developed to systematically improve the welfare of laboratory animals. After some adaptations, the three goals established are 1) to eat less meat, and/or 2) “less and better” meat, and/or 3) “less worrisome” animal protein, respectively, which imply choices described in the literature on consumer behavior. This literature shows that the goal of eating less meat is relatively straightforward, but needs to be made more prominent, and that the goals of eating “less and better” meat or eating “less worrisome” animal protein need more nuances regarding the specific trade-offs that should be made in terms of species, production types and geographic locations. This may help to better integrate the repercussions of food choices for human health, animal welfare, climate change and biodiversity, the relative importance of which varies between countries and consumer segments. In conclusion, it should be emphasized that Reduction, Replacement and Refinement are not just different parts of the same process to meet human health and animal welfare challenges, but also powerful options to combat the climate, biodiversity and—last but not least—food security challenges of the next few decades.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105786
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Protein; consumer; health; animal welfare; sustainability


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