Published: 18 December 2020

Meat’s on the menu for CES student Joanna

Joanna Trewern, who’s studying for a Practitioner’s Doctorate in Sustainability (PDS) at our Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES), secured the opportunity to present her research at an international conference in Oxford.

Shopping for a slap-up feast may be foremost on many people’s minds in December. It’s been something of a priority for Joanna, too. But not in quite the same way.

Joanna was presenting research at the LEAP Oxford University conference – and shopping for food was the subject tabled for debate.

Less and better meat

“I presented the results from my first study as part of my PhD in collaboration with conservation organisation WWF. In the study, I explored what grocery retailers in the UK are doing to provide and promote ‘less and better’ meat, and the challenges they face in doing so,” says Joanna.

“We know producing and consuming animal products, including meat, dairy and eggs, has a significant impact on the environment, and we’d all be healthier if we rebalanced our diets to include more plant protein relative to animal protein.

“Changing diets isn’t easy, though, so my research aims to identify tangible mechanisms that work, whether that’s Government policies or ‘nudges’ that retailers implement to influence consumer behaviour.”

Driving behavioural change

“This is important because retailers represent the intersection between producers, such as farmers, processors and manufacturers, and consumers,” adds Joanna. ”Retailers have a crucial role to play in influencing how food is produced and consumed.

“By discovering what they’re doing on this agenda, where the gaps are, and the challenges faced, we can help drive action toward healthier, more sustainable food systems.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic in particular has helped shine a spotlight on food, from the importance of eating healthily to support health and immunity, to the links between intensive livestock farming and the global spread of contagious diseases.”

The future

Joanna reports that the conference, which was moved online, was a resounding success.

She continues: “The event went really well. I was grateful for the opportunity to present and I participated in a vibrant panel discussion with other like-minded researchers. I got lots of questions afterwards, which is always a good sign.”

Joanna was also briefly joined on-screen by a surprise guest: her cat, Luca!

“I could see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye and I thought he was going to come and sit on my lap. What I didn’t expect was for him to madly dash in front of the screen.”

Luca’s impromptu appearance didn’t stop Joanna thoroughly enjoying the experience.

“This sort of opportunity shows exactly why the PDS program at CES is exciting. It involves being based at a partner organisation. The idea is that this facilitates true collaboration on an applied research project that solves a ‘real world’ problem, while also contributing novel findings to the academic literature.”

Learn more about our Practitioner’s Doctorate in Sustainability and what it’s like to study at our Centre for Environment and Sustainability.