Abstract for: Understanding dynamic drivers of beef consumption in the U.S.

The U.S. is a top producer and consumer of beef globally. High rates of beef production and consumption are a leading cause of negative human and planetary health outcomes, including diet-related chronic diseases, climate change and environmental degradation. Despite substantial evidence indicating the benefits of healthy and sustainable diets and the urgency of reducing beef production and consumption in the U.S., few studies have compared strategies for accomplishing this shift. Several policy measures have been proposed to reduce beef consumption, yet most have not been implemented in the U.S. Their absence suggests that despite an array of policy options, the competing interests of agrifood system actors and their power imbalances contribute to a state of policy inertia surrounding beef in the U.S. The complex structure of the beef system, its many interested actors, and the resistance to significant changes in the system indicate the need for a systems approach to inform decision-making. Thus, the goal of this research is to employ qualitative and quantitative system dynamics model-building to identify dynamic structures driving policy resistance to actions that could reduce beef consumption in the U.S. and identify and compare points of leverage in the system that can contribute to a desirable reduction in consumption and related human and environmental health outcomes.