The poll found that 50.22 percent of 2,000 American adults in a nationally representative sample were aware of the campaign, which encourages people to avoid eating meat one day a week – up from 30 percent awareness six months ago.
In response to the survey results, the initiative said on its website: “This is astonishing given that the campaign has no paid media or even pro bono advertising typical of public service campaigns.”
Instead, awareness is driven by viral campaigns and the participation of key organizations, such as foodservice giant Sodexo, and influential individuals, including Oprah.
The FGI Research poll also revealed that among those who said they were aware of the Meatless Monday initiative, 27 percent said that the campaign had influenced their decision to cut back on meat.
Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, and promotes the notion that cutting back on meat consumption could be beneficial for personal health and the environment. Indeed, Meatless Monday has become associated with climate change campaigns, although estimates of the impact of meat and dairy animals’ carbon emissions vary widely.
In late 2009, a report by a current and a former environmental expert at the World Bank, Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, argued that the greenhouse gases produced in the lifecycle and supply chain of livestock could account for as much as 51 percent of total emissions – far more than the 18 percent suggested by the Food and Agriculture Organization, or the 24 percent estimated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
Commenting on the Meatless Monday initiative’s potential impact on the meat industry, communications director of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Sarah Hubbart said it is “something to watch” but added that 97 percent of Americans choose to include meat, milk and eggs as part of their diet, according to a Harris Interactive poll conducted for Vegetarian Times.
“Most institutions that ‘participate’ in the Meatless Monday initiative haven’t eliminated meat products from their offerings – they simply provide additional meat-free options,” she said.
Hubbart added: “It’s opened the door for more conversations about food production, which is a good thing.”