Victoria Simpson is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology at the University of Lancaster, England, where she conducts research in developmental psychology, and specifically the development of prejudice. These interests are reflected in her research project for CAF, “Children as Agents of Environmental Change: Reducing Barriers to Sustainable and Healthy Diet Choices.” In this project, Victoria explores the attitudes that children have towards the consumption of meat and its production, and how these attitudes might shift with age or with life experiences. Although children in today’s world tend to think it’s less acceptable for animals to be exploited for meat, there are still stigmas associated with meat avoidance, and Victoria aims to find if there is a window of opportunity within adolescence where social stigmas can be minimized.
September 2023 Update:
Victoria is continuing her study, focusing specifically on how children reason about the ethicality of food production, whether they feel responsible as a consumer of products that cause harm to nonhuman animals, and if children begin to exclude peers who have chosen to not consume meat. Victoria started collecting data in June and is incorporating a sample of vegan children in the study, allowing her to test the hypothesis that vegan children have a more nuanced, realistic understanding of animal-derived food production from an earlier age compared with their omnivorous peers.