Beef, Food Choices, and Values

Principal Investigator Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Principal Investigator, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS

Co-investigators: Elizabeth Fox, Hecht-Levi Fellow; Anne Barnhill, PhD, Research Scholar; and Travis Rieder, PhD, Research Scholar

Other team members: Rebecca McLaren, MD, MPH, Senior Research Program Coordinator; and Claire Davis, MA, Research Program Coordinator

Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Senior Research Scientist, and Jessica Bogard, Research Scientist, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are leading the futures modeling for this project.

Our research goal is to identify ways to further reduce the consumption of animal source foods, specifically beef consumption, in the United States to levels that sustain planetary and human health. This project seeks to identify interventions that are likely to be both ethically acceptable and effective in lowering beef consumption in different communities in the United States.

This project attempts to address gaps in the existing knowledge base, especially in regard to which strategies work best in the current United States context, and of what different actors could and should do. The research will be conducted in regions that are representative of different facets of United States consumption to better understand what people are eating and why, with a sustained focus on beef consumption practices. We will explore the incentives and disincentives that influence current practices, and identify possible points for acceptable interventions using an ethical framework.

This research is guided by four specific aims:

  • Describe dietary trends in meat consumption in the United States, as well as the policies and other contextual factors (e.g. socioeconomic status, geographical region, political ideology, etc.) associated with those trends, in order to purposefully select the research site.
  • Identify trigger points for potential shifts in beef production and consumption.
  • Articulate the relevant considerations and trade-offs of different interventions to shift beef consumption in the United States by accounting for the impacts of interventions on human nutrition, the environment and climate change, choice in the food marketplace, preservation of cultural, ethnic and religious food traditions, considerations of equity, and economic well-being of different stakeholders.
  • Develop a framework for ethically evaluating alternative interventions that could accomplish shifts in beef production and consumption.