How flexible are flexitarians? | Dr Lenka Malek

For the Food Values Research Group’s August 2019 seminar, we are pleased to welcome Dr Lenka Malek

How flexible are flexitarians? Consumer segmentation based on meat consumption frequency and willingness to make further changes to protein consumption

De Lenka Malek, Centre for Global Food and Resources, The University of Adelaide

Flexitarians are a growing and largely unexplored population subgroup in developed countries such as Australia. Different to vegetarian and vegan diets that exclude all meat and all animal products, respectively, flexitarian diets limit consumption of meat and/or fish. Current and forecasted rates of meat consumption are recognised as unsustainable by both health and environmental authorities. A closer examination of the variation in dietary patterns and willingness to make further dietary change among Australian consumers who have already made the decision to limit their meat consumption, will provide a better understanding of: 1) different approaches to ‘limiting’ meat consumption (i.e., how often are meat-free meals consumed and what meat types are being reduced and to what extent), and 2) whether further changes to protein consumption are likely within the flexitarian subgroup (i.e., are they likely to further reduce meat consumption or shift to full-time vegetarian or vegan diets).

Latent class cluster analysis was performed using online data from 461 self-identified flexitarians who completed the Food Insights Quarterly (FoodIQ) Survey in December 2018, March 2019 or June 2019. Post-hoc comparisons explored differences in psychographic, socio-demographic and health-related factors between Flexitarian segments. Six segments were identified, which differ in their relative consumption of different types of meat (beef, chicken, pork and lamb), fish and meat-free meals; and willingness to make the following changes to their protein consumption in the near future: reduce meat consumption, eat meat-free most of the time, stop eating meat altogether, and follow a strict plant-based diet. The large number of segments shows the diversity of flexitarian behaviour. These segments will be discussed, along with the societal implications of the growing flexitarian subgroup.

WHEN: Tuesday 18th June, 12-1 PM

WHERE: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

Dr. Lenka Malek, a qualified dietitian, was awarded a PhD in Medicine from the University of Adelaide in 2015. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Food and Resources.

With an overarching health and nutrition focus, Dr Malek’s research combines perspectives and methods from diverse disciplines (including nutrition, psychology, economics and marketing) to investigate human decision-making behaviour related to food choice. Her research aims to produce food-related consumer behaviour insights which can be used to inform development of and improvements in food and health policy

Dr. Malek has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, in particular focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and online consumer surveys. She also has experience using eye-trackingtechnology as a method of objectively measuring an individual’s eye movements to provide insights into human decision-making processes, which are free from memory or social-desirability biases. While her PhD research focused on dietary choices during pregnancy and lactation, her subsequent work has focused on more diverse population groups, including Australian grocery buyers, meat consumers, vegetarians/flexitarians, and Australian and New Zealand caregivers of formula-fed infants. 

She has conducted research for Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and is currently co-leading a project for AgriFutures Australia (Chicken Meat Program). 

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