Meat-Eaters Prefer Not To See Animals On Meat Labels, Research Finds


(updated )

3 Minutes Read

Meat-eaters prefer to see labels that don't show animals - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

People who eat meat prefer not to see the animals they are eating on product labels, a new survey by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has found.

In the study, nearly two-thirds of meat-eaters found “food imagery” more appealing for “pork” products than pictures of pigs.

The AHDB is part of the UK Government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). Earlier this year, campaigners accused the body of “misleading” consumers with its pro-meat adverts in supermarkets.

Meat-eaters don’t want to see who they’re eating

Pigs in a factory farm, the victims of pork products
Nova Dwade / We Animals Media Meat labels are not honest about what meat production involves

The AHDB says that “[v]olume growth in fresh red meat has been challenging for many years.” Indeed, the total number of pigs slaughtered for meat in the UK fell to 10 million in 2023, the lowest number since 2013.

In response, the AHDB led a study to find out “what shoppers are looking for on food packaging.”

The results reveal that most don’t want to see the animal who died for their meal. “Although some shoppers didn’t mind imagery of animals, most were put off by seeing animal imagery on pack,” the study notes.

It is unsurprising that meat-eaters prefer to ignore the animals they are putting in their mouths. Studies have shown the that disassociation is a common technique meat-eaters use to avoid feelings of guilt.

A spokesperson for the AHDB told Plant Based News (PBN): “Decisions to include food imagery is based on research and resulting evidence.”

Meat labels don’t tell the whole story

Faced with falling demand for animal products, the AHDB launched an advertising campaign this year geared towards getting younger people eating more meat and dairy.

Adfree Cities was one of several campaign groups to submit a complaint. Veronica Wignall, its co-director, said in a statement: “With cows grazing in sunlit green fields, birdsong and health messaging, the AHDB’s ‘Let’s Eat Balanced’ ads don’t tell the whole story.”

The new study used a similar “happy cow” on a food label. However, even this airbrushed version of animal agriculture proved too much for most meat-eaters.

One participant wrote that they “prefer seeing the dish that can be eaten rather than the animal.”

A "pork" product with a picture of a pig
Clynt Garnham Food & Drink / Alamy Stock Photo Most meat-eaters prefer not to think about who died for their meal

Cigarette-style labels for meat

In recent years, the meat industry has tried to stop plant-based meat companies using “meaty” labels.

Some believe that rather than censoring “vegan steak,” regulators should focus on the deception on meat packaging. For example, Chris Packham has suggested that more honest “cigarette-style” labelling of animal products would reduce meat consumption.

More like this:

Become A Plant Based Chef with our 1000+ recipes! 🥦

We know it can be hard to keep cooking up tasty, exciting meals. So we thought of them for you! Browse our selection of vegan recipes below.

© 2024 Plant Based News is a mission-led impact media platform focused on elevating the plant-based diet and its benefit to human health, the planet, and animals. | Plant Based News Ltd, PO Box 71173, London, SE20 9DQ, United Kingdom.