Attitudes Toward Farmed Animals In The BRIC Countries
Detailed Report on Brazil
Detailed Report on Russia
Detailed Report on India
Detailed Report on China
Detailed Report on the U.S.
BRIC Nations Infographic
Faunalytics conducted an exploratory study of attitudinal and behavioral differences among people in the “BRIC” countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – plus the United States. Data for this study were collected by YouGov in May and June of 2018, from more than 1,000 individuals per country. Sample demographics are described in the full report.
The BRIC countries are among those that kill the most animals for food. While they currently have relatively low per capita meat consumption, they are rapidly increasing their consumption of animal products (see OECD, 2018 for graphs). The U.S. is also a large meat consumer and producer and provides a useful benchmark for comparison with other countries.
The overarching goal of the study was to examine country differences in current meat consumption, recent changes in meat consumption, support for policies to improve farmed animal welfare, attitudes and perceived norms about the importance of farmed animal welfare, and beliefs about the impact of consuming meat.
These results can be used to establish baselines for attitudes and behavior in countries where we have little data. Advocates and donors may be able to better target their efforts and funding with the help of these results by examining differences across countries and also looking at the detailed responses within each country.
Because the survey included core demographics (age, gender, and region), the individual country reports will also allow us to identify relatively sympathetic subgroups within each.
This report describes all analyses in detail in the Results section. Below we offer the most noteworthy findings.
- Most people want better welfare for animals, regardless of country: The majority of people in the BRIC countries and the U.S. said they would support a law requiring the humane treatment of animals used for food.
- Despite wanting better welfare for farmed animals, most people don’t believe their meat-eating is to blame for animal suffering: About half of respondents from Brazil and India believed that eating meat directly contributes to animal suffering, and a third or fewer from Russia, China, and the U.S. did.
- Brazilians have the most pro-animal attitudes: Respondents from Brazil were the most likely to say that the care and well-being of farmed animals are important, and tended to be among the more pro-animal across the survey. Respondents from Russia and the U.S. tended to fall in the middle of the range, with India and China at the bottom.
- People assume that other people are less pro-animal than they are: In all countries, the percentage of people who agreed that it is important for farmed animals to be well cared for was higher than the percentage who thought that a typical citizen of their country would agree that it’s important. Social norms are a powerful force, so this finding suggests that there is room to increase public support for animal advocacy in all five of these countries by informing people that others also think animal welfare is important.
- More people are reducing than increasing their meat consumption: Most survey respondents said they were eating the same amount of meat as usual. However, of the rest, a reduction was somewhat more common than an increase. The extent of the difference varied from country to country and was largest in the U.S., India, and Russia.
From an interpretive standpoint, it is important to note that people from China did not express many strong opinions. Thus, consistently lower levels of agreement or support from Chinese respondents do not necessarily indicate anti-animal sentiment—they also did not tend to disagree or oppose. Chinese respondents may not have strong feelings on animal issues, or may prefer not to express their opinions. This tendency is described in greater detail in the full report.
This table shows the results from six item in the survey. They are discussed further below.
Beliefs, Attitudes, and Perceived Social Norms by Country
Beliefs about Animal Suffering by Country
“Animals used for food have approximately the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans.”
Most Brazilians (79%) believe that farmed animals suffer on par with humans. In the U.S., Russia, and India, about two thirds of people (62 – 67%) agreed. Far fewer Chinese respondents did (37%), though not because they generally disagreed. Instead, it was because a much larger proportion (50%) remained neutral.
“Eating meat directly contributes to the suffering of animals.”
A minority of respondents believe that eating meat contributes to animal suffering: Overall, only 38% agreed, although it varied by country.
About half of Brazilians (45%) and Indians (51%) believed in the causal link between eating meat and animal suffering. A third or fewer respondents from Russia (35%), China (31%), and the U.S. (30%) agreed that eating meat directly contributes to animal suffering.
Attitudes toward Farmed Animal Welfare
“It is important to me that animals used for food are well cared for.”
Most survey respondents said that it is important for farmed animals to be well cared for (71% overall). Brazilians held particularly strong positive attitudes toward farmed animal welfare, with 89% saying that animal welfare is important to them. Smaller majorities of people from Russia (80%), the U.S. (73%), and India (64%) also agreed. Chinese respondents were the least likely to agree (46%), with many again remaining neutral (43%).
“Low meat prices are more important than the well-being of animals used for food.”
This statement was essentially the opposite of the first one, but the mention of meat prices explicitly reminds respondents that higher welfare standards may come at a cost. Phrased this way, the proportion of people giving pro-animal responses (reflected in disagreement with this statement) was substantially smaller (just 49% overall). This smaller proportion provides an estimate of attitudes that is closer to a real-world context in which many factors influence people’s decisions.
Two thirds (64%) of Brazilians said that low meat prices are not more important than animal welfare, versus just over half of people from the U.S. (53%), Russia (53%), and India (52%). People from China were the least likely to disagree (24%), most often staying neutral (56%).
Between 15% and 22% of people from all countries indicated that they value low meat prices over the well-being of the animals they eat.
Perceived Social Norms by Country
“The typical [NATIONALITY] thinks it is important that animals used for food are well cared for.”
“The typical [NATIONALITY] thinks that low meat prices are more important than the well-being of animals used for food.”
The two items above assessed respondents’ perceptions of what others in their country think—that is, the social norms around animal welfare. It is useful to compare these items with the similarly-worded attitude items described above. In all countries, people assume their fellow citizens are less pro-animal than they are. For a longer discussion of the implications of this difference, see the full report.
People from Russia were the most likely to say that the typical citizen thinks it is important that animals used for food are well cared for, with 65% agreeing. Smaller majorities of people from Brazil (60%) and India (51%) said the typical citizen thinks this is important, and less than half of people from the U.S. (45%) and China (39%).
Even smaller proportions said that the typical citizen of their country values animal welfare over low meat prices (by disagreeing with the second statement). Russians were again the most likely to say the typical citizen is pro-animal (37%). People from India (33%) and Brazil (32%) were the next most likely. Very few people from China (21%) or the U.S. (16%) described the typical citizen of their countries as valuing animal welfare over low meat prices.
Support for Welfare Reform
“To what extent would you oppose or support a law in [COUNTRY] that would require animals used for food to be treated more humanely?”
Overall, 58% of survey respondents expressed support for a hypothetical law in their country that would require more humane treatment for farmed animals.
As shown in the graph below, the proportion expressing support was highest in Brazil (70%) and the U.S. (62%). In Russia, India, and China, approximately half would support it (51 – 53%).
People from China were again particularly likely to choose the neutral option: 41% indicated they would neither oppose nor support the law. However, they were less likely to say “don’t know” than people from the other countries (1%).
Support for Welfare Reform by Country
“Which of the following types of food have you eaten in the past year? Please select all that apply.”
Overall, the most commonly eaten animal products were chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy, with more than three-quarters of all respondents having eaten each.
According to this consumption measure, people from India were by far the most likely to be vegetarian or vegan (31%)—this is due to the prevalence of religious vegetarians in that country. Previous research has shown that vegetarianism is far more common among the upper Hindu castes than the lower castes and non-Hindus (Yadav & Kumar, 2012). In addition, although a majority of Indians eat chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs (55 – 66%), other non-insect meat consumption was far lower than in other countries.
In the U.S., 4% of respondents were vegetarian or vegan. However, this was still significantly higher than the 1% of people in Brazil, China, and Russia who avoid meat.
Diet Change in the Last Three Months
“In the past three months (i.e., since March 2018), have you eaten more or less meat than you usually do (including chicken, turkey, pork, beef, fish, seafood, and other meats)?”
Overall, about half of respondents said that they were eating the same amount of meat as usual (52%).
As shown in the graph below, a relative majority of people in all countries but India said they were eating the same amount of meat as usual. In particular, about two thirds of people (64%) in the U.S. and Russia said there was no change in their meat consumption.
The percentage of people in each country who said they were eating less meat than usual was higher than the percentage who said they were eating more than usual, but to varying degrees. This difference was largest in the U.S. (22% eating less versus 14% eating more), India (37% versus 31%), and Russia (22% versus 15%).
Diet Change in the Last Three Months by Country
Methodology & Limitations
The survey items were carefully designed and informed by consultation with experts in each country. We followed best-practice recommendations to maximize equivalence between countries and languages. Please see the full report for details. Limitations are also described in the full report.
Given the difficulty of cross-cultural, multi-country research, Faunalytics is proud of the effort that went into obtaining reliable, comparable results from five countries, in five languages. We encourage other researchers to use and improve upon our development framework, as best practices will provide the best data for advocate and animals.