University of Goettingen: Is it okay to eat a...
University of Goettingen

Is it okay to eat animals?

University of Goettingen

GERMANY, Goettingen. For a sustainable diet, especially with regard to animal welfare, human health, and environmental issues, a significant reduction in the consumption of animal source foods is essential. The most frequently reported motivations for a meat-reduced or meat-free diet are ethical concerns about animal welfare.

The study "Animal ethics and eating animals: consumer segmentation based on domain-specific values" realizes one of the first consumer segmentations in the context of the human–animal relationship based on domain-specific values; animal ethics. Such a consumer segmentation is relatively stable over time and encompasses the issue of the human–animal relationship in its entirety without limiting itself to a specific question.


Based on a comprehensive consumer survey in Germany and by means of a three-step cluster analysis, five consumer segments characterized by different animal-ethical value profiles were defined. A subsequent analysis revealed a link between animal ethics and diet.


As a key result, relationism as an animal-ethical position seems to play a key role in the choice of a sustainable diet. About a quarter of the population is characterized by a combination of animal welfare-oriented ethical positions with a clear rejection of relationism, i.e., they do not distinguish between farm animals and companion animals. This specific combination of animal-ethical values is associated with a significantly above-average proportion of flexitarians and vegetarians. Thus, the study contributes to a deeper understanding of existing animal-ethical values and their link to the choice of diet.


Hölker, S.; von Meyer-Höfer, M.; Spiller, A. Animal Ethics and Eating Animals: Consumer Segmentation Based on Domain-Specific Values. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3907.

Source: University of Goettingen



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