Abstract for:Meat or vegetarian? - A model-based analysis of the global diet change dynamics

Several model-based studies show that a global diet change towards lower meat consumption can significantly reduce the adverse environmental effects of agriculture related to land use and greenhouse gas emissions. Such studies mostly rely on an average value of meat and plant-based food consumption, or on stylized diet types. Neither the behavioral aspects of diet change, nor the feedback loops between actions and environmental impacts are taken into account. In this paper, we extend an existing integrated assessment model to capture the social and behavioral mechanisms behind diet change. This extension is based on global diffusion of vegetarianism in response to climate events and social norms. The results of the reference simulation show that the vegetarian population increases until 2100, yet not at a rate sufficient to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture. The factors that relate the climate events to the attitude of people towards diet change, for instance the number of events that trigger change or time to forget the past events, are most influential on the vegetarian population dynamics. Future research can explore a variety of scenarios using this model, and can identify the most influential factors with different techniques.