Survey
Animals, Food, and Technology (AFT) Survey: 2020 Update
Ali Ladak and Jacy Reese Anthis  •  March 17, 2021

The 2020 data was collected and analyzed by Ali Ladak and Jacy Reese Anthis. This report was written by Ali Ladak. For the list of contributors on the 2017 iteration, see the 2017 report.

Summary

Our Animals, Food, and Technology (AFT) survey tracks attitudes towards animal farming and animal product alternatives in the US. In 2020, as in the 2017 and 2019 iterations, we found significant opposition to various aspects of the animal farming industry, with a majority of people reporting discomfort with the industry, and strong support for a range of quite radical policy changes, such as banning slaughterhouses. The trend in attitudes between 2017 and 2020 was relatively stable, though slightly negative (not statistically significant). Notably, the number of people who consider animal farming to be one of the most important social issues fell from 2017 to 2019, and remained at this lower level in 2020.

We found that lower age, leftward politics, and a vegetarian or vegan diet were associated with greater animal farming opposition (AFO) and animal product alternative support (APAS). There were regional and ethnicity differences, which are plausibly explained by average differences in political views. While women had more AFO, we found no gender differences in APAS. Education and income were positively associated with APAS but not with AFO.

Table of Contents

Summary

Table of Contents

Introduction

2020 Results

2017–2020 Trends

Demographic Analysis

Appendix

Introduction

In October 2020, we conducted the third iteration of the Animals, Food, and Technology (AFT) survey on attitudes towards animal farming and animal-free food with 1,113 US adults, census-balanced to be representative of age, gender, region, ethnicity, and income. Here we report:

  1. The results from the 2020 survey.
  2. The trends in responses between 2017 and 2020.
  3. The results of regressions of respondents’ opposition to animal farming and support for animal product alternatives (i.e., plant-based and cultured meat products) on a range of demographic variables.

Our methodology remained largely the same as in previous years and can be found in our 2017 report. Any deviations from this are reported in the text. Links to the data, survey, and analysis code for the results presented in this report can be found here.

2020 Results

Figure 1 presents the means and distributions of responses for the questions in the 2020 survey, weighted to account for differences between our sample and the US population on various demographic characteristics as in previous iterations of the survey.

Figure 1:  Animals, Food, and Technology survey 2020 weighted means and distributions. Please use the dropdown menu to show results for questions of interest.

The results for 2020 are broadly consistent with those of previous years. We report the key findings below, excluding data for respondents who did not have opinions on the questions.

2017–2020 Trends

Figure 2 presents trends in the weighted mean responses to each survey question for the three years we have collected data. The chart also shows the trends in the two scales we developed from these questions: Animal Farming Opposition (AFO) and Animal Product Alternatives Support (APAS)[1]. Definitions of these and all other questions in the survey can be found here.

Figure 2:  Animals, Food, and Technology survey 2017–2020 trends. Please click on items on the legend to show trends for questions of interest.

Overall, the charts suggest that people’s responses have been relatively stable over the period. Statistical analysis of time trends supports this: there was no significant change in APAS over the period, and while there was an increase in animal farming opposition between 2017 and 2019, the difference between 2017 and 2020 was not significant. The full results can be found here. We report the key findings below.

Demographic Analysis

In this section we report the results of four regression models testing the relationships between various demographic variables and two outcome measures: AFO and APAS. In two of the models, we pooled the data across the three years of data and included year dummy variables to account for time trends. In the other two models, we used 2020 data only so that we could include political and diet variables that we did not collect in earlier years. We used weights in all of the models to ensure the sample was representative of the US population.

Table 1: Results of survey-weighted regressions predicting Animal Farming Opposition (AFO) or Animal Product Alternatives Support (APAS).

 

AFO Score

Pooled

AFO Score

2020

APAS Score

Pooled

APAS Score

2020

Intercept

4.75***

(.12)

5.60***

(.21)

4.79***

(.13)

5.60***

(.23)

Age (years)

-.02***

(.002)

-.01***

(.003)

-.02***

(.002)

-.02***

(.003)

Gender: Male

-.62***

(.06)

-.38***

(.09)

-.10

(.06)

.11

(.10)

Region: Midwest

-.01

(.08)

-.10

(.12)

-.10

(.08)

-.17

(.13)

Region: Northeast

.39***

(.08)

.13

(.13)

.14

(.09)

-.06

(.14)

Region: West

.11

(.08)

-.07

(.13)

-.01

(.09)

-.27**

(.13)

Race/Ethnicity: Asian

.05

(.12)

.13

(.18)

.08

(.14)

.04

(.21)

Race/Ethnicity: Black

.36***

(.09)

-.07

(.16)

.27***

(.10)

-.11

(.17)

Race/Ethnicity: Hispanic

.41***

(.08)

.20

(.14)

.33***

(.09)

.18

(.15)

Race/Ethnicity: Native American

.41

(.28)

.45

(.38)

.22

(.37)

.73

(.81)

Race/Ethnicity: Other

-.07

(.22)

-.41

(.41)

-.07

(.23)

-.30

(.30)

College degree

.04

(.06)

-.01

(.10)

.36***

(.07)

.38***

(.10)

Income (dollars, thousands)

.0003

(.0004)

.001

(.001)

.001***

(.0004)

.002***

(.001)

Year: 2019

.17**

(.07)

 

-.10

(.08)

 

Year: 2020

-.01

(.07)

 

-.08

(.08)

 

Politics (5 = very conservative)

 

-.32***

(.05)

 

-.23***

(.05)

Political party: Independent

 

-.16

(.12)

 

-.27**

(.13)

Political party: Republican

 

-.29**

(.14)

 

-.43***

(.13)

Vegetarian or vegan

 

1.46***

(.19)

 

1.47***

(.15)

Observations

3,327

1,061

3,327

1,061

Note: Standard errors reported in parentheses. Dependent variables are measured on a seven-point scale, with “no opinion” responses treated as the mid-point.  References categories: Gender = Female, Region = South, Race/Ethnicity = White, Year = 2017, Political party = Democrat. * p < 0.1, ** p < 0.05, *** p < 0.01.

The analysis revealed several notable relationships:

Appendix

The dataset, GuidedTrack survey code, and R code to run all of the analysis presented in this report can be found here. Please feel free to reach out to ali@sentienceinstitute.org with any questions.


[1] These scales are the result of exploratory factor analysis using the 14 relevant survey questions.


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on our research and activities. We average two to five emails per year.