Ewen Gallic : ewen.gallic[at]univ-amu.fr
Avner Seror : avner.seror[at]univ-amu.fr
How can individuals care about animals and, at the same time, eat meat? We design a survey study to explore this "meat paradox''. Survey participants (N= 3054) underestimate farm animal suffering, and underestimate it more (i.e., are less realistic) when they eat more meat. Building on the literature on cognitive dissonance, we develop a model in which individuals form self-serving beliefs in order to reduce the moral guilt associated with meat consumption. The model characterizes how individuals' beliefs about animal welfare and their attitude towards information are affected by the economic environment (e.g., price of meat, salience of animal welfare), and by individuals' preferences (e.g., taste for meat, moral cost of guilt). Several empirical observations are consistent with our model.