Pork Or Pig? Beef Or Cow? Implications For Advocacy And Research
From All-Creatures.org Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Articles Archive


Jo Anderson, Faunalytics.org
December 2018

Faunalytics tested whether referring to meat by the animal it came from would have an immediate effect on attitudes or reported consumption.

Many animal advocates have discussed the implications of referring to animals and animal flesh by common euphemisms like beef, pork, and livestock, rather than explicitly as cow meat, pig meat, and animals. For example, Joan Dunayer and Melanie Joy have written extensively on the topic of speciesist language and, as Joy refers to it, “linguistic deception” via euphemism.

This perspective is supported by research. Euphemisms allow people to distance themselves from thoughts of where their food comes from, and unpleasant feelings associated with that. And research has shown that using the terms “cow” and “pig” on a menu instead of “beef” and “pork” increased empathy and disgust and reduced willingness to eat meat. They found similar results for describing cows as being “slaughtered” or “killed” versus the euphemism “harvested.” People who read the euphemism felt less empathy for the cows.

We at Faunalytics wondered how far this effect would go. In part to see if just referring to animal meat explicitly could have an immediate effect on attitudes (which could be good), and in part because we thought the choice of term might affect study results (which could be bad if different studies use different terms). We ran two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to look at this question.

To read more, please read Pork Or Pig? Beef Or Cow? Implications For Advocacy And Research

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