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Pork Or Pig? Beef Or Cow? Implications For Advocacy And Research

Although previous research showed that using explicit language at the moment of food choice can influence that choice, these studies suggest that it may not have much influence on attitudes outside of that context.

JO ANDERSON: ‘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…

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…

Faunalytics performed two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to look at this question… Participants were randomly assigned to one of two wording conditions: standard (euphemistic) wording or alternative (explicit) wording. The two studies used different question types, but in both, participants assigned to standard wording were asked about their consumption of “pork” and “beef” while participants assigned to explicit wording were asked about “pig” and “cow”…

The results showed no significant differences between the euphemistic and explicit wording… Although previous research showed that using explicit language at the moment of food choice can influence that choice, these studies suggest that it may not have much influence on attitudes outside of that context… Based on these findings, we would caution that word choice in many typical advocacy contexts may be more symbolically important than strongly influential’. SOURCE…

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