Changes in the consumption of many foods, particularly beef, underlie the recent interest in isolating factors explaining these trends. This study focuses on three orienting explanations for differential beef consumption--microeconomic, social structural, and risk reduction perspectives. Consumption is defined by past and anticipated future utilization of beef, as well as present beef consumption relative to possible substitutes. While the microeconomic model is the most useful for isolating an individual's beef intake, it is clear that consumption behavior is dependent on more than income and supply factors. Social structural and risk reduction perspectives increase by 83 percent the R² found through inclusion of economic variables alone. Wagner's criteria for examining the complementarity of theoretical perspectives, including their similarity in predicting behavioral outcomes, was applied to the three consumption explanations. Disparate outcomes are observed in projections of future beef consumption using the microeconomic explanation relative to social structural and risk reduction perspectives.

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