The Effects of COVID-19 on Consumption of Animal and Plant-based Food: An Analysis of Twitter Data



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Tartu Ülikool


This study finds the the impact of COVID-19 on the consumption of meat and plant-based food by analyzing the opinions of the supporters of both diets on Twitter. The study uses around 10 million tweets gathered from November 2019 to June 2020 to cover 3 time periods: Prepandemic, when COVID-19 was spreading silently (November 2019 - January 2020), Transition, when governments around the world started mass information spread and took action (February - March 2020), and Pandemic, when almost all people lived under some sort of restriction (April - June 2020). The study also analyzes the opinions of the users on both types of food and groups them into 2 groups: meat-lovers and veggies. Tweets of each group in each time period are analyzed and compared to see the change over time. The results show that, neither of the groups were more popular than the other in all time periods. However, there is a change when tweets are grouped by topics. Tweets about diets became more popular during pandemic, while the number of very positive and very negative tweets about animal-based food increased. In addition, towards the pandemic, both groups became more in contact with each other, despite being previously isolated, and started paying more attention to risks related to meat and links with the virus. Finally, the pandemic has increased negativity in veggies’ tweets on food while not affecting meat-lovers.



social media, Twitter, COVID-19, Meat, Vegan, Vegetarian