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Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service

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iPlaybook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
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PLAYBOOK FOR GUIDING
DINERS TOWARD PLANTRICH
DISHES IN FOOD SERVICE
SOPHIE ATTWOOD, PAULA VOORHEIS, CECELIA MERCER, KAREN DAVIES, AND DANIEL VENNARD
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We are pleased to acknowledge our institutional strategic partners, who provide core
funding to WRI: the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Aairs, Royal Danish Ministry of
Foreign Aairs, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
World Resources Institute is grateful to the Climate and Land Use Alliance, the
ClimateWorks Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Sally Mead Hands Foundation
for supporting this research, and to our partners who are helping advance this work.
Authors are responsible for the content.
Thanks to Better Buying Lab Members and Network for contributing to the industry
consultation process, including Alex Glen and Tony Davison (Quorn); Andrew Stephen
and Rosie Raynor-Law (the Sustainable Restaurant Association); Scott Giambastiani
(Food at Google) and Anna Gavrieli (Compass at Google); Ria van der Maas, Frank
Galestien, Einav Gefen, Diko Tomchev, Hesham Rabia and Robert Voicu (Unilever);
Suzanne Makkink (Greendish); Ghislaine C. Amsler Challamel and Jackie Bertoldo
(Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises); Rachel Sylvan (Sodexo); Becky Garrison
(USA Pulses); Caroline Meledo (Hilton); John Stoddard and Stacia Clinton (Health Care
Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth).
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Sophie Attwood is Senior Behavioral
Scientist with the Bet ter Buying Lab, an
initiative within World Resources Institute.
Contact: sophie.attwood@WRI.org.
Paula Voorheis is a graduate of the London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with
an MSc in Public Health (Health Economics).
Contact: paulavoorheis@gmail.com.
Cecelia Mercer is an Origin Green
Ambassador MSc Business Sustainability
graduate of University College Dublin Smurfit
Graduate Business School.
Contact: ccmercer93@gmail.com.
Karen Davies is Managing Partner of Triniti
Marketing, a behaviour change consultancy.
Contact: karen.davies@triniti-m.com.
Daniel Vennard is Director of the Better
Buying Lab, an initiative within World
Resources Institute.
Contact: daniel.vennard@WRI.org.
Design and layout by:
Carni Klirs
cklirs@wri.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3 Executive Summary
7 Introduction
13 Building the Playbook
17 The Playbook
27 Product Interventions
37 Placement Interventions
41 Presentation Interventions
47 Promotion Interventions
53 People Interventions
61 Summary
64 Appendix 1: Details on the Methodology
Used to Build the Playbook
69 References
74 About WRI
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1Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
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3Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Encouraging more people to reduce their intake of ruminant
meat and adopt a more plant-rich diet can play an important
role in reducing the environmental impact of food. The food
service sector has a particularly important role to play in
enabling this dietary change given that vast numbers of people
regularly eat away from home. This report lays out 23 prioritized
behavior change interventions that the food service sector can
use to encourage diners to select more plant-rich dishes.
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Food service providers need clearer guidance
on how to use behavior change interventions to
encourage diners to select more plant-rich meals
and reduce the numbers of diners who choose
higher greenhouse gas emitting animal-rich meals,
particularly containing beef or lamb.
To reduce the environmental impacts of the
food service sector, food service providers
need clearer guidance on how to use behav-
ior change interventions to encourage din-
ers to select more plant-rich meals and reduce
the numbers of diners who choose higher green-
house gas emitting animal-rich meals, particularly
containing beef or lamb.
Drawing on a scoping review of relevant aca-
demic literature and a multistage industry
consultation process, this report presents
a “Playbook” of 23 behavior change inter-
ventions that food service providers can use to
encourage diners to select more plant-rich meals.
These interventions were shortlisted as priority
approaches during an industry consultation from
a longer list of 57 interventions, based on ratings
across two criteria: how greatly each is perceived to
inuence diners’ choices and how feasible each is
considered to be to implement.
The shortlist has been organized according
to a “5P” framework that refers to the main tar-
gets for change. This includes Product interventions
that focus on modifying the dish or product itself
(seven interventions), Placement interventions
that involve changing food displays (two interven-
tions), Presentation interventions that outline
ways to redesign food menus (four interventions),
Promotion interventions that focus on how to
price and market plant-rich meals more eectively
(four interventions), and People interventions that
engage sta members to inuence diners’ choices
(six interventions).
The remainder of this Playbook contains
guidance that is intended to help change-
makers in the food service industry adopt
the shortlisted behavior change interven-
tions by outlining why each intervention works
and how each may be used in practice. In addition,
a range of case studies detail success stories, give
examples of how others have adapted each inter-
vention to suit their contexts, and provide evidence
that the food service sector can play a key role in
enabling diners to choose more sustainable plant-
rich meals.
5Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
7Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
INTRODUCTION
Per gram of protein, beef production requires 20 times more
land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
than producing plant-based proteins like beans, peas, and
lentils. As the global population grows to 10 billion people by
2050, 56 percent more crop calories will be needed to meet
demand. Achieving this goal will require large numbers of
people to adopt more resource-eicient plant-rich diets, with
the food service sector positioned to play an important role in
helping accelerate this dietary transition.
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Plant-based food: Foods derived from plant and
fungi rather than animal sources. This includes fruit
and vegetables, beans, grains, legumes, mushrooms,
nuts and seeds, plant oils, herbs, and spices.
Plant-rich diet: A diet in which plant-based produce
makes up the majority of all foods consumed but that
permits small amounts of animal products, including
ruminant meat, to be eaten. The terms plant forward
diet and sustainable diet are also commonly used to
refer to the same pattern of eating, including in this
report.
Pescatarian diet: A diet that excludes meat but
that permits consumption of fish and seafood. Most
pescatarians are also lacto-ovo vegetarians (i.e., they
also consume eggs and dairy).
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet: A diet that excludes
meat, fish, and seafood but that permits consumption
of other animal products (eggs and dairy).
Source: Authors.
BOX  | DIETARY DEFINITIONS
Food and the Environment
Producing animal-based foods, especially meat
from ruminant livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats),
uses more land and emits signicantly more
greenhouse gases than producing plant-based foods
(see Box 1 for denitions). For example, per gram
of protein, beef production requires 20 times more
land and emits 20 times more GHG emissions
than producing plant-based proteins like beans,
peas, and lentils (Ranganathan et al. 2016). A 2013
study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) placed total annual GHG emissions from
animal agriculture at 14.5 percent of all human
emissions,1 of which beef contributed 41 percent
(Gerber et al. 2013). To put this number in con-
text, the average annual GHG emissions from beef
production alone are equivalent to those produced
by the entire nation of India (Gerber et al. 2013;
Climatewatch 2014).
What’s more, production of ruminant livestock uses
a vast amount of agricultural land. In the United
States alone, for example, beef accounts for roughly
half of the land used to produce food for the aver-
age U.S. diet, while providing just 3 percent of the
calories (Searchinger et al. 2019). Given the world’s
growing population and changes in dietary prefer-
ences as countries transition to more Westernized
diets, demand for animal-based foods is projected
to increase by 68 percent between 2010 and 2050,
with ruminant meat demand set to rise by 88
percent during this period (Searchinger et al. 2019).
This growth in demand for animal-based foods will
make it far harder for the world to halt deforesta-
tion and prevent further agricultural expansion,
both of which are needed if we are to reach the
Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature
rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius by midcentury.
Reducing Demand for Ruminant Meat
One of the most important ways to lessen the
environmental impact of livestock production is
to reduce demand for ruminant meat and encour-
age a shift to more plant-rich diets. This type of
diet features mainly plant-based foods, including
vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, pulses, nuts, or
seeds but, unlike a vegetarian or vegan diet, permits
small amounts of animal-based foods, like meat,
eggs, dairy, and sh to be eaten.
Shifting away from a diet rich in ruminant meat
to one that contains a far higher proportion of
plant-based foods is considered by experts to be an
essential strategy to mitigate climate change and
avoid further environmental degradation (Willett et
al. 2019). As Figure 1 shows, encouraging a dietary
shift away from ruminant meat is associated with
a large projected decline in GHG emissions, and is
one of the most important food-related solutions
available to us.
As the global population grows to almost 10 billion
by 2050, we are predicted to need 56 percent more
crop calories than were available in 2010—7,400
trillion extra calories in total—to meet rising
demand. This goal cannot be met by changes in
food production eciency or reductions in food loss
and waste alone; it will require large numbers of
people to adopt resource-ecient diets. For exam-
1. Estimate includes GHG emissions associated with agricultural production as well as land-use change.
9Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
Figure 1 | Shifting toward Plant-Rich Diets Can Play an Important Role in Feeding 10 Billion People while Keeping Global
Temperature Rises to Well Below 2 Degrees Celsius
Source: Reproduced from Searchinger et al. (2 019, 427).
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
15
13
11
9
7
5
3
1
2050
(Baseline)
Reduce food
loss and waste
Shift diets
Phase out crop-
based biofuels
Achieve
replacement-
level fertility rates
Increase
crop yields
Improve manure management
Improve rice management and breeds
Reduce energy emissions
Restore peatlands
80 Mha
of reforestation
2050
(Target)
Increase
fish supply
Reduce GHG
emissions from
agricultural
production
Protect and
restore natural
ecosystems
Agricultural GHG emissions (production + land-use change), Gt CO2e/year (2050)
Reduce enteric fermentation
Reduce emissions
from manure
left on pasture
Increase nitrogen use eiciency
Increase pasture
productivity
Plant existing
cropland more
frequently Improve wild
fisheries
management Increase
aquaculture
productivity
Reduce growth in
demand for
food and other
agricultural products
Increase food
production
without
expanding
agricultural land
585 Mha
of reforestation
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ple, limiting ruminant meat intake to about 50 calo-
ries per person per day—the equivalent of around
1.5 hamburgers per person per week—is estimated
to nearly eliminate the need for further agricultural
expansion (and associated deforestation) between
now and 2050 (Searchinger et al. 2019).
What’s more, a sustainable plant-rich diet is also
associated with reduced risk of a number of non-
communicable diseases, including some cancers
and cardiovascular diseases. It thus confers benets
for individual as well as planetary health (Willett et
al. 2019).
The Role of the Food Service Sector
To encourage a shift toward more plant-rich diets,
actors from all areas of the food industry need to
engage with this issue. The food service sector has
a particularly important role to play in enabling
dietary change, given that vast numbers of people
regularly eat away from home. For example, recent
statistics from the United States show that spend-
ing on dining out represents around 50 percent of
the average American’s food budget (Saksena et
al. 2018). Throughout this Playbook, we use the
term food service sector or industry to refer to any
business or institution responsible for providing
meals prepared outside of the home, including
restaurants, cafés, canteens, workplace dining
facilities, school or hospital cafeterias, and catering
operations.
The food service sector is uniquely positioned to
take a leadership role in innovating and scaling
new and eective solutions to inuence the foods
that diners choose when eating out. This sector is
responsible for developing craveable plant-rich
meals that can entice diners away from meat-
centered dishes. Already rich in expertise on how to
market and sell foods of all types, the food service
industry is also well placed to apply these capabili-
ties to helping diners choose healthier and more
sustainable plant-rich options.
Changing Diner Behavior
Key to the success of any strategy to inuence din-
ers’ food choices is an ability to target the funda-
mental drivers that underpin this behavior. Fortu-
nately, a growing body of evidence is now available
indicating what these drivers are, including taste,
price, convenience, and how we might go about
inuencing them.
One of the strongest conclusions to emerge from this
research is that decision-making around what to eat
is rarely a rational and carefully thought-through
process. Instead, food choices tend to be driven by
habit and familiarity, often happen very quickly, and
are inuenced by lots of seemingly small factors in
the dining environment, usually outside of conscious
awareness. Examples of these include the placement,
size, pricing, position, packaging, or language used
by food service providers to describe the products
and dishes on oer (Hollands et al. 2016).
11Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
We refer to this guide
as a “Playbook
because we hope the
interventions that it
lists encourage food
service employees to
take action to enable
behavior change in
both sta and diners.
Why a Playbook and Who Is This For?
What is now needed is clear guidance to help food
service providers better understand and use these
myriad inuence strategies in their own operations
to encourage their diners to shift to choosing more
plant-rich options. This Playbook intends to meet
this need by presenting a full list of behavior change
strategies (hereafter referred to as “interventions”)
for use in food service, in addition to highlighting
which of these interventions should be prioritized
for implementation and further research given their
potential for impact.
The intended audience for this guide is anyone
working in the food service sector who may be
interested in making changes within their opera-
tions to encourage diners to choose more plant-rich
options. This includes chefs, food servers, man-
agers, sales people, marketing and communica-
tions professionals, food operators, distributors,
researchers, nutritionists, dieticians, and procure-
ment teams. We refer to this guide as a “Playbook”
because we hope the interventions that it lists
encourage food service employees to take action to
enable behavior change in both sta and diners.
13Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
BUILDING THE
PLAYBOOK
Research in behavioral science oers much insight into factors
that influence people’s food choices. This chapter summarizes the
methods we used to develop a prioritized list of behavior change
interventions that can help food service providers encourage
more diners to select plant-rich dishes.
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How We Built the Playbook
For full details on how we designed and built
this Playbook, please see Appendix 1. In brief,
we reviewed just under 4,500 academic research
papers to nd studies that have used behavior
change interventions to shift people to buy or eat
more plant-rich foods. We included studies that
specically aimed to reduce the environmental
footprint of food, as well as broader research test-
ing interventions to shift food choices for other
reasons, like promoting healthier diets. Our focus
was primarily on studies conducted in food service
settings, but we also included research in super-
markets as this can provide insights relevant to
self-service dining.
We scanned all identied papers and pulled out 89
that were relevant to our goals. Detailed reasons for
excluding remaining studies are listed in Figure A1
in Appendix 1. This research was produced by orga-
nizations based in 14 dierent countries, with the
majority of studies originating in the United States
(41 studies) or Europe (27 studies). Thirty-three of
the studies were conducted in real-life dining facili-
ties, a further 27 in simulated dining environments
or online experiments (e.g., virtual supermarkets,
lab-based buets), and 29 in retail settings (e.g.,
supermarkets, grocery stores). Most of this research
(63 studies) focused on interventions to promote
healthier diets. Seventeen studies looked at inter-
ventions to promote more sustainable choices, with
15 of these specically looking at encouraging a
shift away from animal-based to more plant-based
foods. The remaining 9 studies focused on food
choice more generally (e.g., marketing research to
boost sales of specic products like confectionary or
drinks).
Next, we sorted through these 89 studies more
thoroughly, recording details of the interventions
that had been tested. Once we had this information
in one place, we applied a coding scheme to classify
each element in the intervention. We then reviewed
and grouped together codes of similar type. For
interventions not specically designed to encour-
age more diners to choose plant-rich options, we
took the descriptions given by authors and used
these as the basis to generate ideas for new, plant-
rich versions of the same approach. As such, the
nal outcome is an “evidence-inspired” list of
interventions that presents the range of possible
approaches, rather than a list that summarizes the
existing evidence base.
Once we had the full list, we organized the interven-
tions into groups within a “5P” framework. Each P
in this framework refers to the main target of the
intervention—the dish or product itself (Product),
how the food is displayed to diners (Placement),
how menus are organized and designed (Presenta-
tion), how the food is priced and promoted (Promo-
tion), and the sta working in food service (People).
We then sent this list to a group of industry repre-
sentatives, asking for their feedback and whether
they knew of any additional interventions to add
to the Playbook. We gathered their comments and
made edits and additions. At the end of this pro-
cess, we had a nal list of 57 interventions across
the 5P framework, as displayed in Table 1.
Finally, we sent an online survey to a larger group
of food industry representatives, asking them
to rate the list of 57 interventions according to
those they thought most likely to work well (the
“impact” criteria) and those they considered easiest
to do in practice (the “feasibility” criteria) (see
Appendix 1 for further details on the survey pro-
cess and industry sample). A total of 69 industry
representatives provided complete responses to
this survey (a response rate of 90 percent, from a
total of 77 respondents). This sample contained
representatives based in 16 dierent countries,
although the majority were based in the United
States (23 respondents) or the United Kingdom (21
respondents). The 69 industry representatives were
employed by 44 dierent organizations in 9 dier-
ent sectors, covering the job roles outlined in Figure
2.
Results from this industry survey enabled us to
assign a feasibility and impact score to each of the
57 interventions. From the data, we then calculated
the average impact and feasibility score (median
value for each criteria) across the whole sample,
and shortlisted any intervention that fell above this
threshold on both criteria.
15Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
We strongly
encourage food
service providers to
adopt a test-and-
monitor approach
to interventions
listed before scaling
techniques throughout
their operations.
For an appraisal of the strengths and limitations of
the approach that we took in building this Play-
book, please refer to the summary section. A key
point to note here is that our approach to shortlist-
ing interventions is solely based on the experience
and judgment of our industry sample and does
not necessarily reect the strength of the research
evidence on each specic intervention, many of
which have yet to be tested using rigorous research
methods like randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
As evidence accumulates, we plan to integrate
this research and modify the prioritized shortlist
accordingly. In the interim, we strongly encourage
food service providers to adopt a test-and-monitor
approach to interventions listed before scaling
techniques throughout their operations.
Figure 2 | Job Roles of the Industry Representative Sample Who Rated the Long List of 57 Behavior Change Interventions
Source: Authors.
0 6 124102 8 14
Finance
Sales
Other
Food Server
Corporate Social Responsibility
Consultancy and Training
Operations
Research and Development
Marketing and Communications
Food Service Management
Chef or Food Preparation
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Photo FPO
17Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
THE PLAYBOOK
Which behavior change interventions can food service providers
use to encourage their diners to select more plant-rich dishes?
The following chapters describe the most feasible and impactful
interventions, organized into a framework of “5P” target areas—
Product, Placement, Presentation, Promotion, and People.
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Playbook Structure and Use
This nal shortlist of 23 interventions is the basis
for this Playbook. Table 1 gives the complete list of
57 interventions, with the shortlisted ones in darker
shading. The interventions are listed in order of
joint score on both criteria under each P category.
The full spectrum of interventions also appears in
Figure 3, while the 23 shortlisted interventions are
plotted in the top right-hand quadrant of this g-
ure. Each of the 57 interventions has been assigned
a reference code (e.g., PRD1, PLC1, PPL1, etc.),
which can be used to cross reference from Figure 3
to the full description of each intervention available
in Table 1. Figure 4 provides a summary of the 23
shortlisted interventions.
The remainder of this Playbook provides furthers
details on the research that supports each of the 23
shortlisted interventions and oers some ideas on
how food service providers can use each approach
in their own operations. For each approach, we
provide a short case study to illustrate how other
organizations have used that intervention in their
own operations and what they learned from doing
so. These examples are intended to provide inspira-
tion and ideas for how change-makers in the food
service industry can adapt a given intervention
for their own use. Where it is available, we also
refer the reader to further information on each
intervention.
INTERVENTION CROSS
REFERENCE
CODE TO
FIGURE 
MEAN
IMPACT
SCORE*
 TO 
SCALE
MEAN
FEASIBILITY
SCORE**
 TO 
SCALE
PRODUCT
Reduce the amount of meat in a dish while increasing the amount of plants PRD . .
Improve the flavor and texture of plant-rich dishes PRD . .
Introduce one plant-rich day per week, when all dishes served are plant-rich only PRD . .
Improve the appearance of plant-rich dishes PRD . .
Increase the variety of plant-rich dishes on oer PRD . .
Increase the relative number of plant-rich dishes on oer compared to meat-
based dishes PRD . .
Introduce plant-rich alternatives to popular meat-based dishes PRD . .
Develop new, or improve existing, accompaniments to plant-rich dishes PRD . .
Reduce the portion size of a dish that is served to diners PRD . .
Reduce the size of plate that a dish is served on PRD . .
Blend plants into ground or minced meat-based dishes PRD . .
Add decorations to plant-rich dishes to signal to other diners that these have been chosen PRD . .
Introduce specially designed utensils or packaging for eating plant-rich dishes PRD . .
Table 1 | The Full List of 57 Behavior Change Interventions to Shift Diners toward More Plant-Rich Options in
Food Service Settings
 = above the median value on both feasibility and impact criteria, forming the priority shortlist outlined in Figure 3.
Cross-reference Table 1 and Figure 3 using the codes listed below.
19Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
INTERVENTION CROSS
REFERENCE
CODE TO
FIGURE 
MEAN
IMPACT
SCORE*
 TO 
SCALE
MEAN
FEASIBILITY
SCORE**
 TO 
SCALE
PLACEMENT
Make self-service plant-rich food displays (e.g., buets, shelves, food carts or
stations) more engaging PLC . .
Place plant-rich dishes in a more visible position in a self-service display (e.g., buets,
shelves, food carts, or stations) PLC . .
Increase the amount of a self-service display (e.g., buets, shelves, food carts, or
stations) that is dedicated to plant-rich dishes PLC . .
Provide preplated or prepackaged plant-rich dishes to make these the more convenient
choice for self-service PLC . .
Add green leafy plants or fresh fruit and vegetable displays to the dining environment PLC . .
Introduce a plant-rich-only food section within a self-service display (e.g., buets, shelves,
food carts, or stations) PLC . .
PRESENTATION
Use language on menus to emphasize the positive attributes of plant-rich dishes PRS . .
List plant-rich dishes in the main body of a menu, not in a separate “vegetarian”
box or “specials” section PRS . .
Use language on menus to recommend plant-rich dishes PRS . .
Remove unappealing language from menus PRS . .
List plant-rich dishes first on menus PRS . .
Use language on menus to inform diners that plant-rich dishes are the most popular
choice PRS . .
Color-code dishes listed on menus (e.g., red, yellow, green) to help diners recognize that
plant-rich dishes are the “better” choice PRS . .
Add carbon footprint labels to menus, food labels, or shelf displays PRS . .
Use language on menus to highlight the downsides of choosing meat PRS . .
Add natural images on menus to prompt diners to choose plant-rich dishes PRS . .
Oer only plant-rich dishes on main menus, with meat-based dishes on request from a
server or via separate menus PRS . .
Table 1 | The Full List of 57 Behavior Change Interventions to Shift Diners toward More Plant-Rich Options in
Food Service Settings (continued)
 = above the median value on both feasibility and impact criteria, forming the priority shortlist outlined in Figure 3.
Cross-reference Table 1 and Figure 3 using the codes listed below.
WRI.org
20
INTERVENTION CROSS
REFERENCE
CODE TO
FIGURE 
MEAN
IMPACT
SCORE*
 TO 
SCALE
MEAN
FEASIBILITY
SCORE**
 TO 
SCALE
PROMOTION
Oer diners free samples or taste-testing events for plant-rich dishes PRM . .
Publicize the environmental benefits of plant-rich dishes using marketing
materials like posters, leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Run cross-product promotions on plant-rich dishes and selected drinks, side
dishes, or desserts PRM . .
Publicize the growing popularity of plant-rich options among other diners using marketing
materials like posters, leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Allow diners to add meat to a plant-rich dish for a surcharge PRM . .
Help diners role model choosing plant-rich dishes in front of their colleagues, friends, or
family PRM . .
Provide on-site plant-rich cooking demonstrations or food preparation workshops for
diners PRM . .
Run multibuy or buy-one-get-one-free oers on plant-rich dishes PRM . .
Help diners set plant-rich diet goals and monitor their progress over time using a diet diary
or app PRM . .
Encourage diners to participate in plant-rich eating challenges PRM . .
Oer diners additional benefits, rewards, or gifts when diners purchase plant-rich dishes PRM . .
Provide diners with recommendations on how to substitute plant-rich dishes for meat
using marketing materials like posters, leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Publicize the taste and flavor of plant-rich dishes using marketing materials like posters,
leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Sell plant-rich dishes at a lower price than meat dishes PRM . .
Coordinate plant-rich dish promotions to tie in with relevant national campaigns PRM . .
Give diners coupons or loyalty card points to redeem on plant-rich dishes PRM . .
Publicize the health benefits of plant-rich dishes using marketing materials like posters,
leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Use attractive role-models to publicize plant-rich dishes (including celebrities), using
marketing materials like posters, leaflets, or TV screens PRM . .
Table 1 | The Full List of 57 Behavior Change Interventions to Shift Diners toward More Plant-Rich Options in
Food Service Settings (continued)
 = above the median value on both feasibility and impact criteria, forming the priority shortlist outlined in Figure 3.
Cross-reference Table 1 and Figure 3 using the codes listed below.
21Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
INTERVENTION CROSS
REFERENCE
CODE TO
FIGURE 
MEAN
IMPACT
SCORE*
 TO 
SCALE
MEAN
FEASIBILITY
SCORE**
 TO 
SCALE
PEOPLE
Provide chefs and food preparation sta with information about the health and
environmental benefits of plant-rich dishes PPL . .
Train chefs and food preparation sta in how to cook and prepare plant-rich
dishes PPL . .
Encourage front-of-house sta (e.g., waiters, hosts) to try plant-rich dishes
themselves PPL . .
Give chefs and food preparation sta access to the right tools, equipment, and
ingredients to prepare plant-rich dishes PPL . .
Reward chefs and food preparation sta who create popular plant-rich dishes PPL . .
Provide front-of-house sta (e.g., waiters, hosts) with talking points to promote
plant-rich dishes to diners PPL . .
Create a peer-network for chefs, potentially by using social media, to encourage sharing of
plant-rich dish ideas and recipes and to receive support and feedback PPL . .
Train front-of-house sta (e.g., waiters, hosts) to praise and encourage customers who
select plant-rich dishes PPL . .
Oer front-of-house sta (e.g., waiters, hosts) financial, material, or social incentives to sell
more plant-rich dishes PPL . .
Table 1 | The Full List of 57 Behavior Change Interventions to Shift Diners toward More Plant-Rich Options in
Food Service Settings (continued)
Notes:
*Median sample score was 4.85 for impact.
**Median sample score was 4.8 3 for feasibility.
Source: Authors.
 = above the median value on both feasibility and impact criteria, forming the priority shortlist outlined in Figure 3.
Cross-reference Table 1 and Figure 3 using the codes listed below.
WRI.org
22
Figure 3 | Industry Representative Ranking of 57 Behavior Change Interventions
Notes: Codes (e.g., PRD1, PRS 1, PPL1, etc.) in Figure 3 refer to th e 57 interventions listed in Table 1 . X and y axes in Figure 3 cros s the median scores for impact and f easibility criteria
based on re sponses from 69 industry represen tatives. Inter ventions in the top right-hand shaded quadrant are those rated as above average on both criteria (23 in total). This
priorit ized shortlist is described in detail in the remainder of this Playbook and presente d in full in Figure 4.
Source: Authors.
HIGH IMPACT, HIGH FEASIBILITYLOW IMPACT, HIGH FEASIBILITY
HIGH IMPACT, LOW FEASIBILITYLOW IMPACT, LOW FEASIBILITY
PPL6
PPL8
PPL1
PPL2
PPL4
PPL3
PPL9
PPL5
PPL7
PRD6
PRD5
PRD7
PRD1
PRD3
PRD11
PRD9
PRD10
PRD13
PRD12
PRD2
PRD4
PRD8
PLC2
PLC3
PLC6
PLC1
PLC4
PLC5
PRS4
PRS1
PRS9
PRS6
PRS3
PRS2
PRS5
PRS10
PRS7
PRS8
PRM11
PRM14
PRM5
PRM8
PRM16
PRM11
PRM3
PRM7
PRM1
PRM17
PRM2
PRM13
PRM4
PRM18
PRM15
PRM9
PRM6
PRM10
PRM12
2
3
4
5
6
7
2 3 4 5 6 7
Mean intervention "feasibility" score (1–7 scale)
Mean intervention "impact" score (1–7 scale)
Product Placement Presentation Promotion People
23Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
Figure 4 | Twenty-Three Priority Behavior Change Interventions, as Ranked by 69 Food Service Industry Representatives
Note: Inter ventions listed within each of the 5P categories ar e ordered according to ranking on join t “feasibility” and “impact ” criteria from the industr y representative survey.
Source: Authors.
Reduce the amount of meat
in a dish while increasing the
amount of plants
Make self-service plant-
rich food displays more
engaging
Increase the variety
of plant-rich dishes
on oer
Use language on menus
to emphasize the positive
attributes of plant-rich dishes
Oer diners free
samples or taste
testing events for
plant-rich dishes
Provide chefs and food preparation sta with
information about the health and environmental
benefits of plant-rich dishes
Improve the flavor
and texture of plant-
rich dishes
Increase the amount of a self-
service display dedicated to
plant-rich dishes
List plant-rich dishes in the main
body of a menu, not in a separate
‘vegetarian’ box or ‘specials’ section
Publicize the environmental
benefits of plant-rich dishes
using marketing materials like
posters, leaflets of TV screens
Train chefs and food preparation
sta on how to cook and prepare
plant-rich dishes
Introduce one ‘plant-rich’ day per
week, when all the dishes served are
plant-rich only
Introduce plant-rich
alternatives to popular
meat dishes
Use language on menus
to recommend plant-
rich dishes
Run cross-product
promotions on plant-rich
dishes and selected drinks,
side dishes or desserts
Encourage front-of-house
sta to try plant-rich dishes
themselves
Remove unappealing
language from
menus
Allow diners to add
meat to a plant-rich
dish for an extra
surcharge
Improve the
appearance of
plant-rich dishes
Increase the relative number
of plant-rich dishes on oer
compared to meat-based dishes
Give chefs and food preparation sta
access to the right tools, equipment and
ingredients to prepare plant-rich dishes
Reward chefs and food preparation
sta who are successful in
creating popular plant-rich dishes
Provide front-of-house sta
with talking points to promote
plant-rich dishes to diners
PRODUCT
PLACEMENT
PRESENTATION
PROMOTION
PEOPLE
WRI.org
24
Key Findings from the Research
Literature
As noted above, most studies contributing interven-
tions to this review promoted plant-rich diets for
health rather than for environmental purposes. We
identied just 15 of 89 studies that trialed interven-
tions to encourage more sustainable plant-rich diets
specically. Considering this subset, nearly all stud-
ies involved interventions classied under Presen-
tation (e.g., menu engineering approaches and dish
labeling, 11 studies), either alone (9 studies) or in
combination with Presentation (1 study) or Product
interventions (e.g., reduce the portion size of meat,
1 study). Two studies researched Product interven-
tions, one looked at a Placement intervention (e.g.,
changing the order of products in buets), and one
at a Promotion intervention (e.g., posters com-
municating the environmental impact of dierent
foods). We were unable to locate any research that
has specically tested the eect of People inter-
ventions with the express purpose of producing a
dietary shift away from meat and toward plant-rich
options in food service settings.
In terms of eectiveness, 9 of the 11 Presentation
interventions were eective at encouraging diners
to choose more sustainable plant-rich dishes, indi-
cating that this strategy can promote the desired
dietary shift. Given the small number of studies
that researched other 5P intervention categories, we
refrain from commenting further on the strength
of the evidence until research accumulates in this
area.
We also refrain from stating with certainty which
of the 57 individual interventions listed in Table 1
are eective at promoting plant-rich choices in food
service. This is both because of the lack of relevant
research evidence, as noted above, and because
many of the 57 interventions were delivered as
part of “multicomponent” packages (e.g., multiple
interventions implemented at the same time). This
approach makes it very dicult to pick apart which
element in a package is responsible for any changes
in observed diner behavior (or lack thereof).
25Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
the intervention that
was scored highest by
our industry sample
was PRS1—
“Use language on
menus to emphasize
the positive attributes of
plant-rich dishes
We do, however, point the interested reader toward
existing academic literature reviews that have
attempted to determine the eectiveness of spe-
cic behavior change interventions to encourage
a reduction in meat consumption. These include
two high-quality 2018 reviews by Bianchi and col-
leagues (see Bianchi et al. 2018a, 2018b).
Key Findings from Industry Surveys
Ranking individual interventions according to
summed scores on both impact and feasibility cri-
teria revealed that the intervention that was scored
highest by our industry sample was PRS1, followed
by PRD1, PRD2, PRS2, and PRS3 (see Table 1 for
the full title of each intervention).
The lowest-rated interventions were those that
emphasized the negatives of eating meat, restricted
choice, or involved redesigning packaging or table-
ware. The lowest-scoring intervention was PRS11,
followed by PRS10, PRD13, PRS9, and PRD12.
WRI.org
26
Photo FPO
27Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRODUCT
INTERVENTIONS
Here we outline seven prioritized Product interventions
that focus on changing the food that is served to
encourage more diners to select the plant-rich option.
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28
PRD REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF MEAT IN A DISH WHILE INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF PLANTS
In self-service establishments, consider plates that
demarcate portion sizes of dierent ingredients.
These will help diners recognize how much meat to
serve themselves (Sharp et al. 2014). You may also
wish to consider oering preportioned cuts of meat
to encourage diners to take smaller servings when
lling their plates (Rozin et al. 2011), or intersperse
meat options with plant-rich items in food displays
or plate arrangements to reduce the overall amount
of meat served while the volume of food remains
constant.
Case study:
The Dutch nongovernmental organization
Greendish tested the eect of reducing the portion
sizes of meat and sh by an average of 12.5 percent
and doubling the amount of plants served per dish
(i.e., from 75 to 150 grams) on the food choices
of nearly 4,000 diners in three restaurants in the
Netherlands. Greendish found that diners given
reduced-meat dishes ate 31 percent more veg-
etables and 11 percent less meat or sh than those
who were served “regular” portion sizes. When the
two groups were asked to rate how satised they
were with the ratio of meat to plants in their meal,
both sets of diners said that they had been served
“exactly enough” of the meat or sh portion, indi-
cating that reducing the amount these ingredients
did not lower diner satisfaction (Greendish 2018).
Further reading
Greendish. 2018. “Van Der Valk: SME in à la Carte Restaurants.”
https://greendish.org/en/van-der-valk-case-study/.
Reinders, M.J., M. Huitink, S.C. Dijkstra, A.J. Maaskant, and J. Heijnen.
2017. “Menu-Engineering in Restaurants—Adapting Portion Sizes on
Plates to Enhance Vegetable Consumption: A Real-Life Experiment.”
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 14
(1): 41. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0496-9.
In more detail:
What determines how much someone eats at a
meal? Their hunger? Their nutritional needs? How
tasty they nd a dish? While these factors do play a
role, some less obvious aspects also have a power-
ful inuence on how much we eat. For example,
it seems we take cues on what is “enough” food,
not necessarily from how hungry we are but from
how much is originally served to us (Marteau et al.
2015). Research suggests that changing the portion
sizes of meat and plant ingredients in a dish will
inuence how much of each is eaten, and that this
happens without diners realizing that they have
consumed a dierent amount from normal or feel-
ing unsatised with what they have eaten (Labbé et
al. 2018). This phenomenon is known as “unit bias,”
which means diners tend to believe the original por-
tion size they are given is the appropriate amount,
even if this is so large it leaves them overfull (Geier
et al. 2006).
What you can do:
Cut down the amount of meat in the dishes you
serve and increase the amount of plant-based
ingredients to compensate (Reinders et al. 2017).
Rather than using meat as the centerpiece of a
meal, consider it as a “condiment” or avoring on
an otherwise plant-rich dish, or experiment with
ways to blend plants (e.g., mushrooms) into dishes
that contain ground meat, like lasagna or tacos.
This approach not only helps reduce a meal’s meat
content but also can improve the taste prole, as
proven by consumer taste tests (Guinard et al.
2016). Another option is to oer plant-rich starters
or hors d’oeuvres, to encourage diners to ll up on
these before oering them a choice of main dish (in
hope they will then order less meat as they already
feel full).
29Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRD IMPROVE THE FLAVOR AND TEXTURE OF PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Texture and avor are two of the most impor-
tant features of a dish (Tucker 2014). As a result,
improving these two attributes, and communicating
these improvements to diners, is a valuable way to
shift preferences. Despite this, plant-rich dishes
tend to be oered as the healthy option on a menu,
rather than as truly tasty and delicious choices
(Turnwald and Crum 2019). Consequently, plant-
rich meals often lag behind meat-based alternatives
in consumer taste tests (Hoek et al. 2011). They are
associated with a range of negative preconceptions,
including the belief that these options will be bland,
heavy, dry, or lacking in crispiness or crunch (Elzer-
man et al. 2013).
What you can do:
Improve the taste and texture of existing plant-rich
dishes on your menu or develop new and exciting
dishes that are likely to sell well. Consider using
more avor-boosting ingredients like salt and pep-
per, herbs, spices, garlic, citrus juices, oils, vin-
egars, or sauces during preparation, or oer these
ingredients to customers, giving them the choice
to modify the taste of a dish to their specications.
Plant-rich dishes should oer diners a high-quality,
fresh, and authentic choice that is aspirational and
pleasurable to eat. Focus on quality ingredients that
are prepared using techniques diners believe are
specially crafted, artisanal, or that tap into tradi-
tions surrounding a dish or its area of origin. These
approaches can all help enhance perceptions of
quality and taste (Schösler and de Boer 2018).
Case study:
The Good Food Institute (GFI) works with scien-
tists, investors, and entrepreneurs to oer new and
interesting solutions to promote plant-rich alterna-
tives to animal products. GFI has worked exten-
sively to understand what makes a avorsome and
appealing plant-rich dish, reviewing a wide variety
of options that are currently on sale. The organi-
zation has compiled these oerings in an online
database (http://goodfoodscorecard.org/entrees/)
for chefs to who seek to prepare more plant-rich
dishes to access and draw inspiration from others’
menus. In particular, GFI recommends that chefs
consider innovative ways to modify familiar dishes
like burgers or wraps, replacing meat and dairy
with alternatives like tofu, seitan, or Quorn, or
preparing more popular yet inherently plant-based
dishes, like falafel or mixed salad bowls served on a
bed of grains (Good Food Institute 2019).
Further reading
Good Food Institute. 2019a. “How to Win at Plant-Based: Toolkit.”
http://goodfoodscorecard.org/creating-entrees.
Good Food Institute. 2019b. “Plant-Based Entrées.” http://
Goodfoodscorecard.Org/Entrees/.
Hoek, A.C., P.A. Luning, P. Weijzen, W. Engels, F.J. Kok, and C. de
Graaf. 2011. “Replacement of Meat by Meat Substitutes: A Survey on
Person- and Product-Related Factors in Consumer Acceptance.”
Appetite 56 (3): 662–73. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.
appet.2011.02.001.
Schösler, H., and J. de Boer. 2018. “Towards More Sustainable
Diets: Insights from the Food Philosophies of ‘Gourmets’ and Their
Relevance for Policy Strategies.” Appetite 127: 59–68. https://doi.org/
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.022.
WRI.org
30
PRD INTRODUCE ONE PLANTRICH DAY PER WEEK, WHEN ALL THE
DISHES SERVED ARE PLANTRICH ONLY
In more detail:
Introducing one “plant-rich day” per week, where no
or limited meat is served to diners, can inuence food
choice by directly restricting the options available. The
benet of this approach is that it can mirror the eating
patterns that many diners are already adopting—
choosing to cut down on their meat intake on certain
days of the week, or only eat it on weekends—in an
attempt to reduce their environmental footprint or
to improve their health (Lacroix and Giord 2019).
Oering plant-rich-only menus also means that
diners do not have to think too hard, or use too much
willpower, when trying to reduce the amount of meat
that they are eating by, for example, actively control-
ling portion sizes or avoiding the tempting meat
dishes on oer. Other approaches, such as promoting
a plant-rich option while keeping meat on the menu,
can encourage trial without restricting choice.
What you can do:
Consider introducing one plant-rich day per week
in your operations, following well known examples
such as “Meat Free Monday” (Meat Free Monday
2019) or “Meatless Monday” (Meatless Monday
2019.) These campaigns are based on research
showing that people are more likely to eat healthier
on Monday because they see this day as a “fresh
start” or as a day to compensate for a weekend of
overeating. (An 2016; Haines et al. 2003). An alter-
native approach is to oer entirely plant-rich meals
within a single day (e.g., plant-rich meals at either
breakfast, lunch, or dinner). Given that research
suggests diners have a tendency to eat more protein
and fat at lunch and dinner than at breakfast, oer-
ing plant-rich-only meals later in the day may lead
to bigger reductions in GHG emissions (Horgan et
al. 2019; Reichenberger et al. 2018).
Introducing exclusively plant-rich days can some-
times create pushback from diners who resist having
their full range of choices taken away, even if only
temporarily. To overcome this, consider ways to
selectively promote the benets of the plant-rich
options you are serving (see PRS1) and focus on
expanding, not limiting, food options, or even make
no mention of these changes at all (e.g., one good
example of how to do this is the “Green Mondays”
campaign, which avoids drawing attention to the
removal of meat) (Green Monday 2019). Oering
a wide variety of great-tasting plant-based dishes
should oer your diners sucient temptation and
choice that they don’t feel their options are restricted
(see PRD5 for more pointers on how to do this well).
Case study:
The Helsinki School District experimented with intro-
ducing a “vegetarian day” across 33 school cafeterias,
while 10 additional schools retained their regular lunch
menu. Researchers investigated the eect of serving
only plant-rich dishes on the numbers of students who
chose to eat in the school, the amount of food that
students served themselves, and the amount that was
left over (i.e., plate waste) at the end of their lunch
break. Comparing schools that did to those that did not
introduce the vegetarian day, researchers discovered
that serving only plant-rich dishes proved unpopular
in the short term—reducing the number of students
who ate in the cafeteria, with less food served and
more wasted at the end of their meal. However, after
this initial adjustment period, students were more
accepting of the change, with no dierences seen in
the amount of food taken and the amount of plate
waste between schools that did versus those that did
not introduce vegetarian days in the medium term.
Moreover, researchers also reported some evidence of a
positive “spillover” eect, where schools introducing a
vegetarian day saw students voluntarily selecting more
vegetarian meals on other days of the week, up from
11 to 15 percent (Lombardini and Lankosi 2013).
Further reading
Green Monday. 2019. Restaurant Program. https://greenmonday.org/
re s taur ants /.
Lombardini, C., and L. Lankosi. 2013. “Forced Choice Restriction
in Promoting Sustainable Food Consumption: Intended and
Unintended Eects of the Mandatory Vegetarian Day in Helsinki
Schools.” Journal of Consumer Policy 26: 159–78.
Meat Free Monday. 2019. “One Day a Week Can Make a World of
Dierence.”https://www.meatfreemondays.com/.
Meatless Monday. 2019. “Start a Campaign.” https://www.
meatlessmonday.com/start-a-campaign/
31Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRD IMPROVE THE APPEARANCE OF PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail
How a dish looks will have a signicant inuence
on whether a diner chooses that option. In food
service, and particularly self-service, diners make
decisions about what to eat very rapidly. For this
reason, it is important that a dish or product be
visually appealing and able to win attention away
from competing options. Appearance should also
suggest that an item is a high-quality option (Clem-
ent et al. 2015).
Color is a particularly important contributor to the
visual appeal of a dish or product and is a feature
that diners can use to predict how avorful an item
will be. Research into the impact of food color on
diners’ beliefs and preferences has produced some
interesting ndings—for example, green foods are
linked with the idea of “lower energy content,” red
foods increase a customers’ desire to eat, bright
yellow foods are experienced as less sour and less
sweet, white foods are presumed to be salty, glossy
colors denote freshness, and more intense colors
are interpreted as signs of stronger avors (Spence
2015; Foroni et al. 2016; Milosavljevic et al. 2012).
What you can do:
To sell more plant-rich dishes to your customers,
consider ways to showcase the vibrant natural col-
ors and unique forms of fruit and vegetables. You
may consider setting up appealing arrangements
of plant ingredients near self-service displays and
adding bright, colorful, and novel garnishes (e.g.,
an edible ower) that will catch a diner’s eye. If you
sell packaged plant-rich products in self-service dis-
plays (e.g., sandwiches, salads), you could consider
modifying the design of this packaging to minimize
the amount of ne print that diners need to read.
Research tells us that the information included on
products is rarely read, with the average customer
only absorbing about 8–10 lines of text during a
typical shopping trip (Cohen and Babey 2012).
Pictures, colors, and shapes are therefore far more
important inuences on what food is chosen.
Case study:
A group of Belgian researchers worked with a
catering company serving sta and students at
the University of Ghent to see whether enhancing
the attractiveness of their plant-rich dishes would
inuence demand for these options. Research-
ers worked with cafeteria sta to make plant-rich
dishes more appealing by emphasizing the idea of
naturalness (e.g., serving on a wooden plate) and
highlighting plant-based ingredients by surround-
ing this dish with evocative items (e.g., an olive oil
ask and fresh peppers). Measuring the number of
diners who selected the plant-rich options before
and after these elements were added showed that
sales increased by an average of approximately ve
percentage points (Rubens 2017).
Further reading
Rubens, K. 2017. “A Nudge in the Green Direction.” Behavioral
Economics, January 23. https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/a-
nudge-in-the-green-direction/.
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PRD INCREASE THE VARIETY OF PLANTRICH DISHES ON OFFER
In more detail:
Research shows that diners are inuenced by the
variety of food on oer. More choice within a given
category increases the likelihood that diners will
select a dish from that category because there is
greater chance they will nd something they really
want to eat (Parizel et al. 2017; Bucher et al. 2011).
However, care needs to be taken when applying this
intervention, as too much choice can overwhelm
diners’ ability to make a clear decision on what they
want. This is thought to be because weighing up
lots of options takes mental eort, which can leave
people feeling overwhelmed. When in this state,
diners are more likely to rely on easy and attention-
grabbing features (like brand names and colorful
packaging), which can lead them to make less than
optimal choices (Smith and Krajbich 2018). Oer-
ing too many options can also leave diners feeling
less satised with the selection they nally make
(Dar-Nimrod et al. 2009).
What you can do:
Increase the range of plant-rich dishes served in
your establishment. Consider serving various types
of dishes (e.g., a plant-rich salad, burger, soup, and
a pasta dish) rather than variations on the same
type of dish (e.g., four avors of vegetarian soup).
This intervention can be combined with PRD6,
in which more and a greater variety of plant-rich
dishes are proposed, although variety can be
increased while keeping the total number of plant-
rich dishes the same. You may wish to consider
drawing inuences from global cuisines that serve a
wide range of plant-rich dishes, like Middle East-
ern, South East Asian, or Indian (Sengupta 2019).
Another option may be to oer diners many smaller
portions of multiple dishes, so they can sample
a range of dierent plant-rich options without
needing to choose between them. If you are wor-
ried about overwhelming your customers, consider
gradually phasing in greater variety of plant-rich
dishes rather than introducing lots of new options
at once. This will give diners time to familiarize
themselves with and develop a taste for the plant-
rich dishes you are serving.
Case study:
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen set up
an experimental buet to test whether increasing
the variety of dishes on oer would inuence the
amount of plant-rich foods selected. Researchers
rst asked a group of diners to serve themselves
from a buet that contained a mixed white salad,
a mixed red salad, salsa, rice, and chili con carne.
After that, they changed the buet, splitting out the
salad ingredients into separate bowls so that diners
could serve themselves and mix ingredients as they
wanted, thus increasing the perceived variety of the
salad options available. Compared to the rst group
of diners, the second group who had greater per-
ceived variety of salad ingredients ate signicantly
less of the meat-based chili con carne (15 percent
less per person) and less rice (17 percent less per
person) but more salad (4 percent more per person)
(Friis et al. 2017).
Further reading
Bucher, T., K. van der Horst, and M. Siegrist. 2011. “Improvement of
Meal Composition by Vegetable Variety.” Public Health Nutrition 14
(8): 1357–63. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1017/S136898001100067X.
Friis, R., L.R. Skov, A. Olsen, K.M. Appleton, L. Saulais, C. Dinnella,
H. Hartwell, et al. 2017. “Comparison of Three Nudge Interventions
(Priming, Default Option, and Perceived Variety) to Promote
Vegetable Consumption in a Self-Service Buet Setting.” PLoS ONE
12 (5): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176028.
33Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRD INCREASE THE RELATIVE NUMBER OF PLANTRICH DISHES ON OFFER
In more detail:
The context in which diners choose which foods
to buy can have a big inuence on their decision-
making. Diners use information from the surround-
ing environment, often unconsciously, to draw
conclusions about how desirable a dish or product
is compared to others on oer (Bianchi et al. 2018a;
Clement et al. 2015).
Increasing the number of plant-rich dishes com-
pared to meat dishes can shift diners’ choices for a
number of reasons. First, it increases the likelihood
that diners will notice the plant-rich dishes on oer.
Second, repeated exposure to a given item has been
proven to increase preferences toward it. This is
because the more we see something, the more we
tend to like it—a phenomena known as the “famil-
iarity eect” (Cohen and Babey 2012). Third, by
increasing the relative number of plant-rich dishes
on oer compared to meat dishes, diners have
greater choice, meaning there is a higher chance
that they will nd a plant-rich option that satises
their expectations and preferences (Rioux et al.
2018).
What you can do:
Alter the ratio of plant-rich to meat dishes on oer
in your establishment. For example, if you cur-
rently sell two plant-rich main dishes and ve meat
main dishes, consider changing this ratio to 5:2
plants:meat. For ideas on which dishes to add to
your oering, see recommendation PRD5. See PLC3
and PRS2 for guidance on how to present these
options to increase the likelihood that the dishes
will be chosen.
Case study:
In a series of experiments conducted by research-
ers at the University of Cambridge, the impact of
doubling the availability of vegetarian options (from
1 out of 4 dishes on the menu to 2 out of 4) on food
sales was tested in three university cafés. Analysis
of data from this study showed that vegetarian
dish sales increased by 70 percent, and meat sales
decreased, when more of these options were avail-
able to diners. In turn, this led to a substantial
reduction in each cafeteria’s GHG emissions from
food. Owing to the success of this approach, many
other dining establishments at the University of
Cambridge have since chosen to include a higher
ratio of plant-rich options on their menus (Garnett
et al. 2019).
Further reading
Garnett, E., A. Balmford, C. Sandbrook, M.A. Pilling, and T.M. Marteau.
2019. “Impact of Increasing Vegetarian Availability on Meal Selection
and Sales in Cafeterias.” Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences 116 (42): 20923–29.
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PRD INTRODUCE PLANTRICH ALTERNATIVES TO POPULAR MEAT DISHES
In more detail:
When asked why they eat meat, many people say
they love the taste, that eating it is a part of their
normal routine, and that this is a habit they simply
do not want to change (Rees et al. 2018). These
justications reect the fact that familiarity drives
much of our decision-making on what to eat, with
a strong drive toward foods that have been tried
many times before and that are known to be satisfy-
ing (Lacroix and Giord 2019). With this in mind,
oering diners a choice between their normal meat-
based favorites and very similar (but plant-rich)
alternatives is one way to encourage a shift in food
choices. Meat substitutes that look, taste, and smell
like meat oer diners their “normal” and preferred
choice, in a form that is signicantly better for the
environment (Schösler et al. 2012).
What you can do:
Consider oering your diners tasty and appealing
plant-rich versions of the most popular meat dishes
on your menu. Plant-based sausages, burgers, or
mince should be oered alongside their meat-based
counterparts, encouraging diners to see them as
viable alternatives to their regular choices. De-
emphasize the fact that these options contain little
to no meat. Instead, promote their unique benets,
highlighting positives such as improved taste.
Case study:
In April 2019, the international fast food chain
Burger King announced that it was rolling out a
trial of the plant-based “Impossible Burger” across
59 sites in and around St. Louis, Missouri (United
States). The Impossible Burger, manufactured by
the company Impossible Foods, is a plant-based
burger specially designed to look, smell, and taste
just like meat. The key to the Impossible Burger’s
authenticity is the addition to the patties of the
ingredient heme, derived from genetically engi-
neered yeast, which gives the burger a distinct
meaty taste. By the end of April 2019, Burger King
announced that its trial had been a success, report-
ing that restaurants in St. Louis pulled in 19 percent
higher foot trac than the company’s national aver-
age during the trial period. These gures led the
company to trial the Impossible Burger nationwide
in the United States (CNBC 2019). Competitors of
Burger King have followed suit, with McDonald’s
launching a Nestlé-produced vegan burger, the
“Big Vegan TS,” in May 2019 in Germany, one of
its leading international markets (CNN Business
2019).
Further reading
CNBC. 2019. “Impossible Whopper Boosted Burger King Traic by
18%, Report Says.” May 28. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/
impossible-whopper-boosted-burger-king-traic-by-18percent-
report-says.html?mc_cid=37f1cbda8f&mc_eid=f3d0a91d99.
CNN Business. 2019. “McDonald’s Joins the Meatless Burger
Trend in One of Its Biggest Markets.” May 8. https://edition.cnn.
com/2019/05/07/business/mcdonalds-meatless-burger-germany/
index.html.
35Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
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37Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PLACEMENT
INTERVENTIONS
The two prioritized Placement interventions outlined
here describe how best to display food in self-service
buets or on shelves to encourage more diners to
select the plant-rich option.
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38
PLC MAKE SELFSERVICE PLANTRICH FOOD DISPLAYS MORE ENGAGING
In more detail:
While attracting diners’ attention with eye-catching
displays is great way to boost demand for plant-rich
foods, food service providers can also do well with
techniques that stimulate the four remaining senses
of sound, taste, touch, and smell. Information that
diners receive from these senses can help arouse
their interest and inuence their emotions (Chebat
and Michon 2003). Background music, tempting
textures, and mouthwatering odors can all help cre-
ate an engaging, multisensory dining experience, as
can showcasing how plant-rich dishes are prepared.
Open kitchens or food preparation stations can
demonstrate to the diner the amount of eort and
skill involved in creating plant-rich dishes, inuenc-
ing their impressions of dish quality and elevating
these choices to a higher status (Krishna 2012).
What you can do:
Think of ways to make your dining area and food
displays more multisensory. Plant-rich food sta-
tions, where food is cooked in front of diners, not
only allow them to see how their dishes are made
and build anticipation for eating them but also give
chefs the chance to interact with diners directly, to
discuss the benets of plant-based ingredients and
oer diners samples to try before they buy. You may
wish to give diners the choice to pick and choose
their own plant-based ingredients and allow chefs
to compile and cook this unique blend right in front
of them. Pick-your-own salad gardens that allow
diners to harvest their own greens or herbs can also
boost the appeal of these plant-based ingredients,
while ensuring diners access to fresh and natural
products in a unique and memorable way.
Case study:
In a lab-based study on food choice conducted by
Heriot Watt University, participants were asked
to select one of two types of savory snack—Indian
samosas or Malaysian popiahs—while either Indian
or Malay music was played in the background.
When counting the numbers of each snack taken
by participants at the end of the lunch period,
researchers found that samosas were chosen sig-
nicantly more frequently when Indian music was
played, while popiahs were more likely to be chosen
when Malay music was on in the background! The
authors of this study argue that background music
can inuence food choice by “priming” diners
to think about the corresponding culture, which
inuences their decision-making when foods are
presented (Yeoh and North 2010).
Further reading
Yeoh, P., and A. North. 2010. “The Eect of Musi-
cal Fit on Choice between Two Competing Foods.”
Musicæ Scientiæ 9 (1): 165–80.
39Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PLC INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF A SELFSERVICE DISPLAY THAT IS
DEDICATED TO PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
The phrase “Looking is buying” sums up ndings
from research into the best ways to arrange food
displays to inuence diners’ choices (Gidlöf et al.
2017). Evidence shows us that the more atten-
tion given to a particular option, the greater the
chance it will be bought (Smith and Krajbich 2018).
Increasing the number of options on sale within a
given category, like plant-rich, is one way to attract
more attention (see PRD6 and PRD5 for examples
of how to do this), as are other approaches that
result in plant-rich options taking up more of a
diner’s visual eld. These include spacing plant-
rich products out more, positioning them more
prominently than meat products in a display (e.g.,
in a buet or on shelves), or extending plant-rich
product display areas into surrounding spaces.
What you can do:
Increase the amount of space that plant-rich dishes
take up in buet sections or in shelf displays and
consider ways to distribute plant-rich dishes and
products across display areas where meat-based
options are available. This not only will ensure that
plant-rich items take up more space but also will
keep meat-eating diners from bypassing a section
on display as “vegan and vegetarian.” Ensure the
increased display areas for plant-rich options are
also visually attractive. Avoid clutter, which dis-
courages choice (Scheibehenne et al. 2010). For
further ideas on how to improve the appearance of
plant-rich dish displays, see PRD4.
Case study:
Responding to growing demand for plant-rich
options at the campus of Seattle Pacic University,
food service provider Sodexo decided to expand its
display of these options. Sodexo doubled the size
of its plant-rich food station, spreading existing
options into neighboring display areas and adding
new menu items. The team also decided to change
how it marketed the food in this section, rebranding
the station as “Avant Garden” to appeal to meat eat-
ers as well as vegetarian and vegan diners, showcas-
ing and highlighting the locally grown food in this
display to draw more attention to it. In the semester
following these changes, participation at the Avant
Garden station increased to 28 percent from a
baseline of 19 percent the semester before.
Further reading
Gidlöf, K., A. Anikin, M. Lingonblad, and A. Wallin.
2017. “Looking Is Buying: How Visual Attention
and Choice Are Aected by Consumer Prefer-
ences and Properties of the Supermarket Shelf.”
Appetite 116: 29–38. https://doi.org/https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.04.020.
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41Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRESENTATION
INTERVENTIONS
The design and layout of menus can have an important
influence on what people chose to eat when dining
away from home. Here we describe four Presentation
interventions that recommend ways to engineer menus to
encourage more diners to select plant-rich dishes.
WRI.org
42
PRS USE LANGUAGE ON MENUS TO EMPHASIZE THE POSITIVE
ATTRIBUTES OF PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Language can play an important role in creat-
ing desire for plant-rich dishes when used well.
Research shows that certain types of language are
better than others at enticing diners toward plant-
rich dishes, with words that emphasize taste and
indulgence, or that highlight interesting or exotic
origins, proving particularly eective. Another pow-
erful approach is to use descriptive language that
helps diners evoke the look and feel of plant-rich
dishes, allowing them to create tempting images
in their minds when making a selection (Lockyer
2006). For each type of appealing language, using
the right words can creative positive expectations
about a plant-rich dish that not only enhance
motivation to select it but also inuence the diner’s
perception of how the dish will taste (Wansink et
al. 2005; Papies 2013). Even more interesting is
the fact that descriptive words have been shown
to aect our physiology directly, with appealing
language creating watering mouths in anticipa-
tion, as well as aecting levels of the body’s hunger
hormone, ghrelin, which plays an important role in
controlling appetite (Crum et al. 2011; Keesman et
al. 2016; Forwood et al. 2013).
What you can do:
Rename the plant-rich dishes you oer using words
that highlight the avor or provenance of the dish
or the eating experience. Consider involving your
team in generating new and interesting names—
particularly the chefs who work with ingredients
daily and have intimate knowledge of the look, feel,
taste, and preparation techniques involved in the
plant-rich dishes that you sell. While adding lan-
guage highlighting the positive attributes of a dish,
also consider removing language that may suppress
sales of plant-rich options (see PRS4).
Case study:
WRI ran a trial with the U.S.-based restaurant
chain Panera to nd out whether a series of simple
changes to the language used on its menus and
signs could inuence sales of one of its plant-rich
options, “Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup”.
Panera worked with WRI to develop more appeal-
ing names for this dish, eventually opting to test
“Slow Simmered Black Bean Soup,” which show-
cases the avor and care taken in preparing the
soup, and “Cuban Black Bean Soup,” to reect the
dish’s heritage. These new names were tested in 40
cafés across two regions of the United States over a
two-month period in 2018, with language changes
made across all ordering channels, including menu
panels, mobile, online, in-café kiosk, and drive-
thru. When comparing this test period to the same
period the year before, results showed that switch-
ing to the name “Slow Simmered Black Bean Soup”
in the rst market had no eect on soup sales, but
the name “Cuban Black Bean Soup,” used in the
second market, resulted in a statistically signi-
cant 13 percent increase. These results highlight
how important it is to use the right language when
promoting plant-rich dishes, and that when this is
identied, words can have an important eect on
customer demand (Vennard 2019).
Further reading
Turnwald, B.P., D.Z. Boles, and A.J. Crum. 2017a. “Association between
Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots
and Dynamite Beets.” JAMA Internal Medicine 177 (8): 1216–18.
doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1637.
Vennard, D. 2019. “Q&A: How a Cuban Name Change Boosted
Panera’s Soup Sales.” World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.
org/blog/2019/02/qa-how-cuban-name-change-boosted-paneras-
soup-sales.
Vennard, D., T. Park, and S. Attwood. 2018. “Encouraging Sustainable
Food Consumption by Using More-Appetizing Language.” Technical
note. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/publication/
encouraging-sustainable-food-consumption-using-more-
appetizing-language.
43Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRS LIST PLANTRICH DISHES IN THE MAIN BODY OF A MENU, NOT IN A SEPARATE
VEGETARIAN” BOX OR “SPECIALS” SECTION
In more detail:
Contrary to the prevailing belief that highlighting
certain dishes using boxed or framed sections on
menus will increase their appeal to diners (Ozdemir
and Caliskan 2015), recent research has found that
positioning plant-rich dishes in a separate “Vegetar-
ian Specials” section actually reduces the likelihood
that these options will be ordered (Bacon and Krpan
2018). It seems that, rather than attracting diners’
attention, boxes are used as a way for those who are
not vegetarian or vegan to rapidly screen out these
options. It is possible that diners who do not follow
a meat-free diet presume that any option listed in
a “Vegetarian Specials” box is not for them, so they
quickly move on to more relevant areas of the menu.
What you can do:
Do not list plant-rich dishes in separate “Vegetarian
Specials” or “Vegetarian Choices” boxes or areas
on your menu. Instead, integrate these options
alongside other meat and sh dishes that you oer.
You may even want to move plant-rich options to
the top of a menu rather than positioning them in
the middle of a list, where they are less likely to be
chosen (Policastro et al. 2015).
Case study:
In a recent study conducted at the London School of
Economics, researchers tested the eect of placing
meat-free dishes inside versus outside of a “Vegetar-
ian Dishes” box on a restaurant menu (Figure 5). They
showed 380 participants two dierent versions of an
online food menu—one with the vegetarian dishes
separated into their own section and one with these
dishes integrated into the rest of the menu—and asked
subjects to indicate which dish they would select
if they were dining out in this restaurant. Results
showed that participants were less likely to select
either the vegetarian risotto or the ricotta and spinach
ravioli when these were placed in the “Vegetarian
Dishes” box than when they were placed rst and last
on the full menu—only 6 percent chose either vegetar-
ian option when these were separated from other
dishes, versus 13 percent when these were integrated
into the full list (Bacon and Krpan 2018).
Further reading
Bacon, L., and D. Krpan. 2018. “(Not) Eating for the Environment: The
Impact of Restaurant Menu Design on Vegetarian Food Choice.”
Appetite 125: 190–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.APPET.2018.02.006.
Figure 5 | Plant-Rich Dishes Listed in a “Vegetarian
Specials” Section and Integrated into the Full Menu
Source: Bacon and Krpan (2018).
“CONTROL” MENU VEGETARIAN” MENU
Risotto primavera (v)
Peas, mushrooms, lemon 14.00
Lobster & crab roll
Avocado, lettuce, lemon mayonnaise 17.00
Sautéed king prawns
Chili, garlic & parsley, basmati rice 22.50
Deep fried haddock
Minted peas, hand cut chips, sauce tartar
15.50
Chicken cacciatora
Roasted chicken breast, mushrooms,
tomato, olives 14.50
Steak frites
Rump pavé, hand cut chips, béarnaise
sauce 19.50
Hamburger
Relish, hand cut chips 13.50
Ricotta & spinach ravioli (v)
Asparagus, butter & sage sauce 13.50
v – suitable for vegetarians
Lobster & crab roll
Avocado, lettuce, lemon mayonnaise 17.00
Sautéed king prawns
Chili, garlic & parsley, basmati rice 22.50
Deep fried haddock
Minted peas, hand cut chips, sauce tartar
15.50
Chicken cacciatora
Roasted chicken breast, mushrooms,
tomato, olives 14.50
Steak frites
Rump pavé, hand cut chips, béarnaise
sauce 19.50
Hamburger
Relish, hand cut chips 13.50
VEGETARIAN DISHES
Risotto primavera (v)
Peas, mushrooms, lemon 14.00
Ricotta & spinach ravioli (v)
Asparagus, butter & sage sauce 13.50
WRI.org
44
PRS USE LANGUAGE ON MENUS TO RECOMMEND PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Highlighting a single plant-based dish as the rec-
ommended choice on menus, signs, or screens is a
good way to attract attention to that option (Gidlöf
et al. 2017). Adding a menu recommendation,
particularly from an expert source (e.g., “Chef’s
Recommendation”) can help diners lter through a
multitude of options (dos Santos et al. 2019). A rec-
ommended choice may also allow diners to bypass
the process of weighing very similar pros and cons
for dierent dishes (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008),
and can leave them feeling more certain that they
have made a “good” choice that is reinforced by the
opinion of another person. Note, however, that the
research in support of this approach is currently
mixed, with fewer studies available that indicate
recommendations do inuence food choice than
those showing recommendations have no eect
(Broers et al. 2019; dos Santos et al. 2019; Zhou
2019).
What you can do:
Consider running a short trial that highlights a
selected plant-rich dish as the “Dish of the Day,”
“Chef’s Recommendation,” “Daily Recommenda-
tion,” or “Owner’s Choice.” Make this recommenda-
tion clearly visible to diners at the time when they
are making their choice and ensure it is integrated
into regular menus and signs, rather than listed on
a separate specials board, where it could be eas-
ily overlooked. There is currently relatively little
research on the best way to present this kind of rec-
ommendation, but suggestions include highlighting
the recommended dish in bolder or larger font, in
dierent colors, or accompanied by an appealing
image (Ozdemir and Caliskan 2015). You may also
wish to back up any written recommendations by
asking sta to clearly indicate to diners the recom-
mended option on the menu before they place their
order (see PPL6).
Case study:
A group of researchers from the Université
Catholique de Louvain in Belgium tested the eect
of recommending a novel plant-rich dish—salsify
and turmeric soup—on sales of that item in two
university canteens. While not specically a study
exploring interventions to encourage diners to
shift away from choosing meat, researchers were
interested in whether highlighting an unfamiliar
plant-rich dish as a “suggestion of the chef” would
encourage diners to overcome their aversion to
trying this new option. Comparing lunchtime soup
sales over ve days when the chef’s suggestion
was listed on menu boards and dish labels to ve
days when only the soup’s ingredients were shown,
researchers found that the chef’s suggestion led to a
signicant increase in numbers selecting the salsify
soup. The average daily percentage of salsify soups
sold when labeled as the chef’s suggestion was 17.2
percent, compared to just 9.7 percent when only
soup ingredients were listed on signs and dish
labels (Broers et al. 2019).
Further reading
Broers, V.J.V., S. van den Broucke, C. Taverne, and O. Luminet. 2019.
“Default-Name and Tasting Nudges Increase Salsify Soup Choice
without Increasing Overall Soup Choice.” Appetite 138: 204–14.
https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.03.027.
dos Santos, Q., F.J.A. Perez-Cueto, V.M. Rodrigues, K. Appleton, A.
Giboreau, L. Saulais, E. Monteleone, et al. 2019. “Impact of a Nudging
Intervention and Factors Associated with Vegetable Dish Choice
among European Adolescents.” European Journal of Nutrition,
February. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-019-01903-y.
45Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRS REMOVE UNAPPEALING LANGUAGE FROM MENUS
Why this works:
The language that we use to describe food can have
a powerful inuence on our subsequent experiences
of it. Research shows that certain language works
particularly well to evoke mental simulations (or
“mental images”) of what a dish will be like to eat. If
these simulations are positive, they can tempt din-
ers toward the described option (Papies 2013). Yet
research shows that words most commonly used to
describe plant-based dishes—terms like healthy or
light or low-calorie—don’t work very well at moti-
vating diners to choose these options (Turnwald
and Crum 2019). For example, research by World
Resources Institute (WRI) shows that terms high-
lighting the absence of meat in a dish—vegetarian,
vegan, or meat-free—are particularly unappealing
to most people. In communicating with those who
don’t follow these diets, it seems to be better to
avoid using language that calls out the fact that a
dish does not contain meat (Vennard et al. 2018).
What you can do:
When describing the plant-rich options on your
menus, signs, or food labels, remove language
that emphasizes the lack of meat in a dish. Words
like vegetarian, vegan, and meat-free tend to be
unpopular among those who have not excluded
meat from their diets. There is, however, currently
too little research to recommend whether using
vegetarian symbols (e.g., a green V) is a better
option, but, as these symbols are generally smaller,
unobtrusive, and may only be noticed by those
actively looking for them (e.g., vegetarian and vegan
diners), this might be a better approach to com-
municate that a plant-rich dish is indeed meat-free
(Vemula et al. 2014). When you do wish to use the
terms vegetarian or vegan, we recommend that
these not be included in main titles but instead
placed in subdescriptions. If you are wondering
what to replace these words with, take a look at
intervention PRS1 or consider using basic descrip-
tions of a dish’s ingredients so these are unambigu-
ous to your diners.
Case study:
WRI worked with the UK food retailer Sainsbury’s
to explore the impact of changing the language
used to describe plant-rich dishes on oer in its
supermarket cafés. Over a period of eight weeks,
new, appealing descriptive language to describe the
vegetarian and vegan dish options was introduced
on menus in 18 sites, while 10 other cafés kept
original dish names that included terms like meat-
free and vegetarian. Analysis of sales data from
before and after names were changed showed that
removing language that highlighted the lack of meat
in a dish and replacing this with more attractive
names signicantly boosted plant-rich dish sales,
with increases of up to 76 percent seen for one of
the dishes, a meat-free sausage and mash more
evocatively renamed as “Cumberland Spiced Veg-
gie Sausage and Mash” (Bacon et al. 2018). Other
descriptive names produced shifts in the number of
plant-rich dishes sold of between -4.7 percent and
+51 percent, underscoring the importance of choos-
ing descriptive language that can evoke positive
expectations in the minds of diners.
Further reading
Bacon, L., J. Wise, S. Attwood, and D. Vennard. 2018. “The Language
of Sustainable Diets: A Field Study Exploring the Impact of
Renaming Vegetarian Dishes on U.K. Café Menus.” Technical note.
World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/publication/
language-sustainable-diets.
Turnwald, B.P., D. Jurafsky, A. Conner, and A.J. Crum. 2017b. “Reading
between the Menu Lines: Are Restaurants’ Descriptions of
‘Healthy’ Foods Unappealing?” Health Psychology. Advance online
publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000501.
Wise, J., and D. Vennard. 2019. “It’s All in a Name: How to Boost
the Sales of Plant-Based Menu Items.” World Resources Institute.
https://www.wri.org/news/its-all-name-how-boost-sales-plant-
based-menu-items.
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47Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PROMOTION
INTERVENTIONS
Here we describe four prioritized Promotion interventions
that focus on how promotional strategies, publicity
materials, and pricing strategies can influence diners to
choose more plant-rich dishes.
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48
PRM OFFER DINERS FREE SAMPLES OR TASTETESTING EVENTS FOR PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Giving diners free samples of plant-rich dishes to
try before they buy is a good way to introduce them
to new options, allowing them to nd out whether
they like a dish before committing to a full meal.
Research shows that repeatedly tasting a sample
can increase diners’ liking of it (Lakkakula et al.
2010)—another good example of the “familiarity
principle” in action: repeated exposure to a particu-
lar food leads us to like it more, even if we initially
nd it unappealing (Wardle et al. 2003). Another
possible reason why free samples of plant-rich
foods may increase the numbers who choose them
is that they make the positive attributes of the
sample dish—the smell, taste, and texture—more
prominent in the diner’s mind, acting as cues that
are triggered when the opportunity to choose nally
arises (Lammers 1991).
What you can do:
Oer your customers free samples of plant-rich
dishes to try before they buy. You may wish to con-
sider oering tasting plates that contain a variety
of smaller portions of plant-rich dishes, allowing
diners to test these without committing to a whole
meal that they may not be sure they will like.
Taste-testing events or food stands are good ways to
engage diners with a new dish or product and give
your sta an opportunity try out other interventions
listed in this guide—like applying the principles
from PRS1 or attracting diners’ attention through
techniques described in PLC1.
Case study:
An elementary-middle school in Vermont intro-
duced students to four new dishes, including a
plant-rich vegetable stew, by giving them taster
portions the day before each was sold as the
main lunch meal. Over the course of one month,
researchers found that providing free samples led
to a signicant increase in the percentage of stu-
dents who chose the target dish during lunch the
next day (e.g., vegetable stew sales went up by 8.5
percent) and a decrease in numbers choosing other
options (down by 10.4 percent) (Pope et al. 2018).
Similarly, a study conducted at a school in London
found that giving students free samples of sweet red
pepper each day led to a signicant increase in how
much they reported liking this vegetable over time.
Researchers note that the amount of red pepper
that each child voluntarily ate per day increased sig-
nicantly, from just over one piece at the rst test
session to more than nine pieces at the last session
(Wardle et al. 2003), suggesting this is a powerful
way to boost demand.
Further reading
Pope, L., E. Roche, C.B. Morgan, and J. Kolodinsky. 2018. “Sampling
Tomorrow’s Lunch Today: Examining the Eect of Sampling a
Vegetable-Focused Entrée on School Lunch Participation, a
Pilot Study.” Preventive Medicine Reports 12: 152–57. https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.09.010.
49Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRM PUBLICIZE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF PLANTRICH DISHES USING
MARKETING MATERIALS LIKE POSTERS, LEAFLETS, OR TV SCREENS
In more detail:
While there is growing media coverage of the link
between the food we eat and its impact on the
environment, few customers may be aware of this
relationship and its implications for the future of
our planet. Moreover, it is unlikely that those who
are will recall their anxieties about the threat of
climate change when deciding what to eat. At that
moment, they are more likely to be driven by hun-
ger or to be rushed or distracted (Marteau 2017).
Researchers call this the “hot cold empathy gap,”
diners’ underestimation of the role that physiologi-
cal drives—thirst, hunger, fatigue—and the environ-
ment play in dictating their food choices, and their
presumption instead that their decisions are led by
“colder” rational factors, like their knowledge of an
issue (Nordgren et al. 2006).
The existence of the “hot cold empathy gap” sug-
gests that it is necessary to think about not only what
information to communicate to diners but also how
and when this should be presented. Messaging on
the link between food and environmental risks may
have the most impact when presented at the point of
decision. If diners’ attention is engaged at this vital
moment, researchers argue, they will have the oppor-
tunity to pause and reect on their values, before
they opt for either a meat- or plant-rich dish. Indeed,
some evidence suggests that timely targeting with
the right type of information can inuence diners’
choices in food service settings (Gustafson et al. 2018;
Reed et al. 2011). Note, however, that research on
this intervention suggests that it may be less eective
than other approaches in encouraging a shift in food
choice. Moreover, it may prove unpopular with certain
groups of diners, especially those who do not hold
strong proenvironmental values. The suitability of this
intervention will therefore need to be considered in
light of your customer base and in the context of your
establishment and food oering.
What you can do:
Incorporate more advertising to highlight the
environmental benets of eating more plants and
less ruminant meat in your establishment. Ensure
that these advertisements are placed where custom-
ers will notice them before they order—for example,
on menu boards, on signs in front of products, on
shelf labels, or at the entrance of the restaurant.
Make sure the facts that you are communicating
are truthful and relevant to your diners, and think
about highlighting the “solutions” that your estab-
lishment is engaged in, rather than calling attention
to problems that seem too large or futile to tackle
(Chapman et al. 2016). Help customers understand
the impact of their individual choices on the envi-
ronment, potentially by communicating the green-
house gas emissions savings of choosing a specic
meat dish rather than a plant-rich alternative.
Case study:
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in
Sweden wanted to test the impact of communicat-
ing information about the environmental impact
of dierent dishes sold at the university canteen
using color-coded menu labels that summarized the
CO2 equivalents of dierent items on sale. During
an 11-week trial period, vegan, ovo-vegetarian,
sh, and poultry dishes were labeled green, while
pork dishes and vegetarian dishes that contained
considerable amounts of dairy were labeled yellow,
and beef or lamb dishes were labeled red. Labels
were added to menus in an attempt to catch din-
ers’ attention at the decisive moment, with further
information displayed at the self-service checkout,
the restaurant entrance, and on posters and yers.
Researchers compared dish sales during a ve-week
period before the labels were introduced to the trial
period, nding that sales of green-labeled dishes
increased by 5.6 percentage points when the labels
were present, while the share of meat dishes sold
decreased by 2.4 percentage points when these were
labeled red. Overall, this point-of-decision informa-
tion intervention resulted in an emissions reduction
of 3.6 percent (Brunner et al. 2018).
Further reading
Brunner, F., V. Kurz, D. Bryngelsson, and F. Hedenus. 2018. “Carbon
Label at a University Restaurant: Label Implementation and
Evaluation.” Ecological Economics 146 (August 2017): 658–67. https://
doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.12.012.
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PRM RUN CROSSPRODUCT PROMOTIONS ON PLANTRICH DISHES AND
SELECTED DRINKS, SIDE DISHES, OR DESSERTS
In more detail:
Promoting certain dishes alongside complementary
products, like a suitable wine, side dish, sauce, or
dessert, is a well-known marketing technique used
extensively in food service. Cross-product promo-
tions like these can boost sales of plant-rich options
by making it easier for diners to choose what to eat
in combination (Harris and Blair 2006; Carroll et
al. 2018), as well as encouraging diners to associ-
ate plant-rich dishes with other high-quality and
well-branded products, leading them to transfer
their positive perceptions from these to the target
plant-rich dish.
What you can do:
If your establishment oers self-service dining, con-
sider displaying plant-rich options alongside paired
products in the same area on shelves or in buets.
Another approach is to add signs that recommend
options that should be paired together. If you oer
only table service, you may consider advertising
cross-product promotions using a set plant-rich
menu or encourage your service sta to recommend
attractive pairings of plant-rich drinks, sides, des-
serts, or extras to diners.
Case study:
For those hoping to treat their partner to a roman-
tic meal on Valentine’s Day but who prefer to eat
in rather than out, UK supermarket chain Marks
& Spencer has the answer: a Valentine’s Day meal
day for two for just £20. The meal deal bundles
together a starter, a main dish, and a dessert
option with additional wine or prosecco for two
diners. In 2019, the retailer added its rst-ever
fully plant-based Valentine’s meal deal—allowing
customers to replace animal-based starters like
Gastropub Camembert with Chutney with Vegan
Sweet Potato Falafels, or ruminant heavy mains
like Boeuf Bourguignon with plant-based Roasted
Mushroom Strogano. It also enabled them to add
meat-free sides, like Tenderstem Asparagus Spears.
Cross-promoting vegan products on this menu with
animal-based options, and allowing diners to add
their choice of white, red, or rosé wine or prosecco
enabled Marks & Spencer to reach a broader audi-
ence of shoppers and entice those who might not be
willing to order from a vegan menu.
Further reading
Carroll, K.A., A. Samek, and L. Zepeda. 2018. “Food Bundling as
a Health Nudge: Investigating Consumer Fruit and Vegetable
Selection Using Behavioral Economics.” Appetite 121: 237–48.
https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.11.082.
51Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PRM ALLOW DINERS TO ADD MEAT TO A PLANTRICH DISH FOR A SURCHARGE
In more detail:
Presenting diners with a menu that is plant-rich but
allows them to add meat for a surcharge is likely to
inuence dish choices given the tendency to favor
the “default” choice over alternatives (Campbell-
Arvai et al. 2012). This eect, known as “status quo
bias,” is thought to occur because diners either do
not realize when dierent options are available or
are not willing to make the eort to seek out alter-
natives. Another good reason to oer meat at an
additional surcharge is that this approach can make
the additional cost of this ingredient more obvious
to diners. This taps into a phenomenon commonly
discussed in relation to human decision-making,
that is, loss aversion: people nd it painful to spend
money unnecessarily, a discomfort often greater
than the anticipated pleasure of adding meat to
their meal (Radnitz et al. 2018).
What you can do:
Oer diners the option to add beef, lamb, or other
meats to plant-rich dishes at an additional cost,
making it clear that the meat component is an
extra not included in the base price. You may want
to provide a menu that contains only plant-rich
options by default, with meat additions included in
a separate “Added Extras” section, or highlight the
meat dishes available on a separate menu board,
meaning that diners need to actively seek out this
information if they wish to include meat in their
dish. Finally, consider oering dierent meats on a
sliding price scale, with those that produce the most
greenhouse gas emissions priced higher than lower-
emitting alternatives.
Case study:
A team of researchers at Radboud University in the
Netherlands set up an online study of the impact of
a vegetarian-only menu that enabled diners to add
meat to a dish at extra cost. In this study, partici-
pants saw dierent versions of restaurant menus
and were asked to select which dish they would
eat. One version of each menu contained options
that were all vegetarian but to which diners could
add meat for an extra cost. Other menu versions
contained both meat and vegetarian dishes. The
researchers found a signicant dierence between
the dierent menu types in the numbers of people
who chose the vegetarian option. Of the 245 par-
ticipants, 73.2 percent selected a vegetarian option
when this was presented as the default choice with
meat at an extra cost, compared to 43.8 percent
when menus included both vegetarian and meat
dishes (de Vaan 2018).
Further reading
Campbell-Arvai, V., J. Arvai, and L. Kalof. 2012. “Motivating
Sustainable Food Choices: The Role of Nudges, Value Orientation,
and Information Provision.” Environment and Behavior 46 (4):
453–75. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916512469099.
de Vaan, J. 2018. “Eating Less Meat: How to Stimulate the Choice for
a Vegetarian Option without Inducing Reactance?” Master’s thesis.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Radboud University.
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53Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PEOPLE
INTERVENTIONS
Sta working in food service establishments play a key role
in influencing which dishes diners order. In this section we
outline six People interventions that provide sta with the
knowledge, skills, tools, and motivation to encourage diners
to choose plant-rich dishes.
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54
PPL PROVIDE CHEFS AND FOOD PREPARATION STAFF WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THE
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Even though they do not interact with diners
directly, back-of-house food preparation sta are
still able to inuence diners’ choices by creating
appealing and tasty plant-rich options that will
entice them away from meat. Yet many back-of-
house sta are not aware of the environmental
impacts of dierent types of food or do not real-
ize the important role they can play in boosting
demand for plant-rich options. Supplying those
who plan your menus and prepare your dishes with
facts about the benets of plant-rich foods may
motivate them to engage with and contribute to this
important agenda (Mullee et al. 2017).
What you can do:
Run an educational session or direct your back-of-
house sta to good websites, videos, or articles that
explain the link between plant-rich diets and the
environment. To motivate your back-of-house sta
to engage with this agenda, consider ways to make
these issues more personally relevant to them. For
example, nd ways to encourage chefs and food
preparation sta to reect on and measure the
environmental impact of their own dietary choices
(Sussman et al. 2016). Pictures and diagrams are
good ways to get points or headline statistics across
clearly. Another is to pair the information you give
your sta with clear and actionable “next steps”
that they can take right away. Including this type
of practical guidance helps move people from just
thinking about the facts to making changes because
of them.
Case study:
The chef team at the University of Winchester,
based in the United Kingdom, has been focusing on
plant-rich food for several years. To help the team
better understand how to produce appealing tastes,
avors, and textures when cooking with more
environmentally friendly plant-based ingredients,
the Humane Society held a skills and education day
for both the production team and outlet supervi-
sors. Following this training, chefs were even more
conscious of the need to develop great-tasting
plant-rich meals for those following a vegan diet
and their “exitarian” customers, meat eaters
actively trying to reduce their intake. As a result,
the team went on to develop its own in-house book
of plant-rich dishes, with copies given to students
and sta so they could learn more about the
benets of plant-rich dishes and try out recipes at
home. This approach not only helped improve chef
and diner awareness of plant-rich diets but also
helped engage more diners with the wide variety of
plant-rich options available around campus.
55Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PPL TRAIN CHEFS AND FOOD PREPARATION STAFF IN HOW TO COOK
AND PREPARE PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Multiple factors inuence which foods diners
choose to buy; unsurprisingly, one of the most
important is whether a dish tastes good (Turnwald
and Crum 2019). For this reason, it is essential
that back-of-house sta, like chefs and other
food preparation personnel, be skilled in creating
plant-rich dishes that customers anticipate will
be delicious. These should be gratifying and tasty
options, not just healthy but potentially boring
and bland alternatives to meat (Raghunathan et
al. 2006; Freitas et al. 2015). One factor that may
be preventing back-of-house sta from creating
these options is that plant-rich dishes can be more
complex to prepare than meat-based dishes; they
tend to contain more and varied ingredients that
each require dierent and potentially unfamiliar
preparation and cooking techniques. Chefs may not
have the background to successfully execute these
dishes, especially if plant-rich cooking skills are not
included in chef training courses, or they may need
to update their training in order to make the new
and exciting plant-rich recipes that customers are
increasingly demanding.
What you can do:
Make sure your back-of-house sta have access to
up-to-date training in how to prepare and cook bet-
ter plant-rich dishes. If you have a training budget,
consider inviting an expert to run a dedicated plant-
rich training session. You may also consider using
a “train-the-trainer” model, where you strengthen
one sta member’s skills—perhaps by sending him
or her on an external training course—and then ask
that individual to run sessions with the rest of your
sta. If you have a limited training budget, look
online for good tutorial videos. Where possible,
try to incorporate a practical element into these
training sessions. Give sta the opportunity to try
out new cooking methods and to taste the food they
prepare. This will increase the chances they remem-
ber the content taught.
Case study:
Hilton combined its chefs’ passion for creat-
ing new and exciting dishes with the hospitality
chain’s commitment to sustainability to develop a
series of 10 training videos. These videos aimed to
inspire chefs to create innovative burger blends,
working in partnership with WRI, the Mushroom
Council, and the Culinary Research and Education
Academy. The Blended Burger is made of 20–30
percent mushrooms and 70–80 percent meat, a
dish that helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by up to 29 percent compared to a regular burger
(Waite et al. 2018). The videos presented a step-
by-step guide on how to create dierent blends
of meats and mushrooms for dierent avor and
texture proles. A dierent one-minute video was
posted each day via the dedicated app of the Hilton
Americas culinary team and shared with more
than 300 hotels during a campaign called “10 Days
of Burger.” Chefs oered anecdotal feedback that
the initiative “created energy in hotels” and that it
was a good “creativity opportunity.” A year later,
more than 400 hotels in the Americas reported
that they served reduced-meat options, including
the Blended Burger. The video series has now been
shared with all 6,000 Hilton hotels globally.
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56
PPL ENCOURAGE FRONTOFHOUSE STAFF TO TRY PLANTRICH DISHES THEMSELVES
In more detail:
When sta have tasted and enjoyed plant-rich
dishes, they are in a stronger position to recom-
mend these options to diners. Personal recom-
mendations are a powerful way to inuence diners’
decision-making and are most eective when given
by sta members who are seen as a trustworthy
and credible sources of information (Toivonen et
al. 2016). Service sta who speak positively about
their personal experiences with a particular plant-
rich dish, or who mention that this dish is their own
favorite choice will signal to diners that plant-rich
options are a normal and rewarding option (Stok et
al. 2016).
What you can do:
If possible, within the context of your dining estab-
lishment, consider oering your front-of house sta
plant-rich dishes at discounted rates or free as sta
meals during working hours. Alternatively, consider
organizing periodic food-tasting sessions to let your
sta experience these dishes rsthand. Tasting
sessions can be combined with broader training on
each dish, providing servers with the facts and sell-
ing points they need to selectively promote plant-
rich dishes to diners.
Case study:
As part of a new seasonal oer on the “Blended
Burger”—a 70–80 percent meat and 20–30 percent
mushroom-blended burger patty with a lower envi-
ronmental footprint than a regular burger (Waite et
al. 2018)—sta at the Cleveland Hilton hotel were
given full training on how to promote this dish to
diners. This training included demonstrations from
the culinary team and dish tasting for a full week,
plus preshift sales training to give service sta a
comprehensive understanding of the sustainability
and healthy aspects of the burger that they could
communicate to diners. This training and food
tasting helped engage the whole team in promoting
this more sustainable option. In the rst week that
the Blended Burger was oered, 100 dishes were
sold—a successful outcome attributed in part to
the enthusiasm of the team. The Cleveland Hilton
has since repeated this seasonal special training
and tasting approach, with the team once again
celebrating Burger Week in 2019 and looking to
integrate the Blended Burger as a more permanent
xture on its menu.
Further reading
Waite, R., D. Vennard, and G. Pozzi. 2018. “This Flavor-Packed Burger
Saves as Many Emissions as Taking 2 Million Cars O the Road.”
Blog. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/02/
flavor-packed-burger-saves-many-emissions-taking-2-million-cars-
road.
57Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PPL GIVE CHEFS AND FOOD PREPARATION STAFF ACCESS TO THE RIGHT TOOLS,
EQUIPMENT, AND INGREDIENTS TO PREPARE PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Just as a lack of training can limit how well back-
of-house food preparation sta are able to make
plant-rich dishes, the wrong tools, equipment, and
ingredients can also prevent sta from successfully
preparing dishes that customers want to order,
even if they have the will and expertise to do so.
By investing in the right equipment for chefs, a
food service provider can clearly signal its intent
to enable its sta to make positive change happen.
Investment in the infrastructure needed to make
plant-rich dishes can also motivate sta, who may
then wish to get optimal use and value from their
new tools or equipment. Also important is that
chefs have the right ingredients to make new and
interesting plant-rich dishes. In some instances,
these ingredients may be a challenge to procure,
especially if they are particularly rare, expensive,
required in very small amounts, or involve seeking
out entirely new suppliers—complexities that need
to be overcome with careful planning.
What you can do:
Once you know which plant-rich dishes you want to
sell, consider conducting an audit of your existing
infrastructure to understand which tools or equip-
ment may be missing. Speak to your sta to under-
stand their views on which changes are needed or
consult with those already preparing and oering
the types of dishes you wish to sell. In terms of
sourcing ingredients, if working in a large organiza-
tion, you may need to carefully consider ways to
make the case that certain plant-based ingredients
need to be bought by your procurement teams,
possibly by highlighting how their addition can
boost sales by responding to consumer trends or by
dierentiating your brand from competitors.
Case study:
Eden Caterers, a London-based sustainable cater-
ing company, took its latest kitchen expansion and
ret as an opportunity to invest in equipment that
would help its chefs prepare plant-rich dishes in
an easier and more time-ecient way. During its
kitchen redesign, the company not only invested in
more energy-ecient combi ovens and cookware
but also bought a large multiuse vegetable prepara-
tion machine to help its chefs speed and automate
the dicing, slicing, and grating of plant ingredients.
The company notes that another benet of this
machine is that it can easily produce around 100
kilograms of perfect mashed potato, making it the
ideal kitchen addition to produce the large batches
needed to supply the type of events that Eden
Caterers serves.
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58
PPL REWARD CHEFS AND FOOD PREPARATION STAFF
WHO CREATE POPULAR PLANTRICH DISHES
In more detail:
Encouraging sta to use their creativity to develop
new and appealing plant-rich dishes can not only
boost diner demand for these options but can also
enhance chefs’ job satisfaction and pride in their
work (Tongchaiprasit and Ariyabuddhiphongs
2016). Rewarding chefs and food preparation sta
who create novel plant-rich dishes with praise,
recognition, cash, or another prize is also a great
way to build sta motivation. Incentives like this
can help nurture and develop the talents of sta
members while also improving the sustainability
of the food on oer (Putra et al. 2015). Setting up
dish-creation challenges between sta members or
sites can also introduce a sense of friendly competi-
tion, which can feed sta members’ drive to do a
good job.
What you can do:
Find ways to recognize and reward sta members
who innovate new plant-rich dishes. The reward
you choose should be meaningful to the sta
member or the team involved, whether its form be
nancial (a bonus or voucher), material (a gift),
or social (praise or public recognition). To foster
creativity, ensure that sta have an opportunity to
try dierent approaches, potentially by introducing
dedicated creative sessions where sta can come
together to share and try out new ideas in a friendly
and nonjudgmental environment. You may wish
to bring in outside experts to run these sessions,
trainers who will be able to introduce new ideas and
methods that your sta can then adapt and modify.
If you decide to run plant-rich culinary competi-
tions with your sta, work out in advance which
criteria you want to use to measure success (e.g.,
dish sales or a team vote for the best option) and
advertise these competitions within your opera-
tions. Once again, always reward your winners and
runners-up with prizes that are valuable to them.
Case study:
The global nonprot organization Health Care
Without Harm encouraged chefs working in
hospital dining facilities across the United States to
submit their best plant-rich recipes to a competi-
tion judged by the Seattle Culinary Academy, run in
partnership with the Culinary Institute of America’s
Menus of Change initiative. Shortlisted dishes were
judged on key criteria such as avor (compilation
and balance of ingredients), sensory appeal, ease of
execution, availability of ingredients, nutrition, and
taste, and included a turkey grain bowl, red dahl, a
miso noodle and veggie bowl, jackfruit teriyaki, and
butternut squash enchiladas. The chef who created
the winning dish (red dahl) was recognized during a
presentation in front of peers at an industry confer-
ence, and the winning dish was extensively publi-
cized via social media, reaching more than 1,200
health-care facilities (see Figure 6). The recipe has
since been made available to over 700 health-care
dining facilities across the country.
Figure 6 | Chefs Preparing the Culinary
Competition’s Winning Dish
Source: Culinary Institute of America.
59Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
PPL PROVIDE FRONTOFHOUSE STAFF WITH TALKING POINTS TO
PROMOTE PLANTRICH DISHES TO CUSTOMERS
In more detail:
Front-of-house sta (e.g., service or wait sta,
cashiers, hosts) are in a unique position to inter-
act with and inuence diners’ choices (Ebster et
al. 2006). Training front-of-house sta in how to
communicate the benets of plant-rich dishes in
interesting and engaging ways can help diners see
these as attractive choices. In addition, diners may
also wish (albeit unconsciously) to comply with the
recommendations of a front-of-house sta member;
humans are social animals who are highly moti-
vated to be approved of and accepted by others.
This means that diners may select a recommended
plant-rich dish in order to be seen as making the
“better” choice in the eyes of their server, or in
those of their fellow diners, or they may want to
follow a recommendation in the hope of being liked
by that member of sta (Herman et al. 1983).
What you can do:
Provide front-of-house sta with talking points
that they can memorize to better sell the benets
of plant-rich dishes. Good examples of attributes
that you may wish to promote include the delicious
avor of plant-rich dishes, the quality or unique-
ness of the ingredients, or any interesting prepara-
tion techniques involved in making the dish. In all
cases, try to selectively sell the benets of plant-rich
options over and above the meat dishes you oer.
Consider dierent ways to engage your diners in
conversation before they have made their choices,
perhaps when they are given menus or being
seated, or train your sta to talk up the benets of
plant-rich dishes when orders are being placed in
order to prompt diners to reconsider the plant-rich
option if not already selected. This approach may
also be used eectively in combination with PRS3.
Case study:
Researchers in the Netherlands wanted to deter-
mine whether a verbal recommendation from wait
sta would inuence sales of a plant-rich side dish
and drink additions to a set breakfast menu. Over
a 23-week period, researchers measured sales of
orange juice and fruit salad in a Dutch self-service
restaurant. For the rst 10 weeks, sta recom-
mended no additions to the set breakfast on oer;
from 11 to 23 weeks sta were required to ask all
diners whether they wanted to add an optional
orange juice or side of fruit salad to their breakfast
at the point of sale. Comparing sales data from
before and after the verbal recommendations were
introduced, researchers found that the number of
extra dishes that were sold increased signicantly
with the prompt from sta. For example, orange
juice sales increased from a baseline of around 20
percent of diners adding this option to their break-
fasts before the recommendation to around 42
percent after, while fruit salad sales tripled from a
baseline of 3 percent to around 9 percent. Further-
more, data from additional questionnaires con-
ducted with diners suggest that they were largely
happy with this approach and did not feel unduly
pressured into purchasing these options with their
meal (van Kleef et al. 2015). While not specically
focused on shifting away from meat and toward
plant-rich dishes, this research clearly indicates the
power of sta recommendations to inuence the
choices of diners.
Further reading
van Kleef, E., O. van den Broek, and H.C.M. van Trijp. 2015. “Exploiting
the Spur of the Moment to Enhance Healthy Consumption: Verbal
Prompting to Increase Fruit Choices in a Self-Service Restaurant.”
Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being 7 (2): 149–66. https://doi.
org/10.1111/aphw.12042.
WRI.org
60
61Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
SUMMARY
This Playbook of 23 prioritized behavior change interventions
provides guidance and inspiration for potential change-makers
in the food service industry to encourage diners to choose
plant-rich dishes. In this chapter, we outline some of the main
strengths and limitations of the methods we used to build the
Playbook, and provide recommendations on the next steps
needed to advance this important agenda.
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62
Strengths and Limitations of Our
Approach to Building the Playbook
Our approach to building this Playbook drew
inspiration from academic research literature and
from industry experience of what works in real food
service establishments. Through this process, we
have identied a long list of 57 potentially eec-
tive behavior change interventions. This list goes
beyond approaches tested in the academic research,
incorporating valuable insights from those working
in the food service industry.
From this long list, we identied a priority shortlist
of 23 interventions deemed by a sample of industry
representatives to be the most feasible and impact-
ful ways to encourage diners to shift their food
choices. This shortlist should now be prioritized for
further research given that these interventions are
most acceptable to, and so most likely to be adopted
by, change-makers in the food service sector.
There are, however, several limitations to the
method that we used to build this Playbook. There
is currently too little research on each of the 57
interventions to draw clear conclusions on which
ones work best. As a result, we have deferred to
industry representative surveys as one way to iden-
tify “best bet” approaches. Industry scores on both
impact and feasibility criteria are, however, subjec-
tive judgments rather than evidence-based ratings,
and they do not necessarily reect true intervention
impact and feasibility as determined by robust
scientic evaluation. These judgments also do not
account for other criteria that operators may wish
to consider when selecting interventions, including
cost-eectiveness and customer acceptance. Fur-
thermore, we also note the positive linear distribu-
tion of data points in Figure 3. This indicates that
scores on both impact and feasibility criteria tend to
correlate closely. This may imply that perceptions
of impact are strongly inuenced by perceptions of
feasibility (or vice versa), suggesting that scores on
both criteria may instead reect an overall judg-
ment about the intervention rather than accurate
views on each criterion separately.
We further note some potential for bias in recruit-
ment of our sample of industry representatives.
Survey responses relied on voluntary participation,
were not incentivized, and were publicized via
WRI’s media assets. Together, these factors suggest
that members of the recruited sample may be famil-
iar with WRI’s food-focused research and objectives
and that some may be particularly interested in the
issue of sustainable diets. These conditions may
have inuenced survey responses.
63Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
Additionally, we highlight that our sample of indus-
try representatives was dominated by respondents
from the United Kingdom (30 percent of the sam-
ple) and United States (33 percent of the sample).
This means that overall intervention scores are
likely to reect culturally specic dining practices
and may not be relevant to food service providers
located in other geographies. Moreover, we note
that the majority of the research included in our
review was also conducted in the United States or
Europe. As a result, the intervention list derived
from this research is not necessarily applicable to
other countries where food service diers consider-
ably on factors such as the type of cuisine on oer,
meal structure, ways of eating, style of service, food
service environment, or relative price of food.
Conclusions and Next Steps
The 23 interventions described in detail in this
Playbook are intended for use by those working in
the food service sector. The aim of these interven-
tions is to help encourage diners to shift away from
ruminant meat and toward more plant-rich dishes
when dining out.
We identified a priority shortlist of 23 interventions
deemed by a sample of industry representatives
to be the most feasible and impactful ways to
encourage diners to shift their food choices. This
shortlist should now be prioritized for
further research.
Many of these interventions are yet to be tested
in robust research trials to determine their true
impact. As such, we recommend not only that these
approaches be adopted by food service providers
to help accelerate a transition to more sustainable
plant-rich diets but also that researchers based in
universities or other research institutes conduct
further impact evaluations, in collaboration with
industry, to determine their eectiveness. In partic-
ular, much more research is needed to understand
the applicability of the interventions identied in
this Playbook to food service establishments that
operate in regions other than the United States and
Europe. This work would allow gaps in the existing
evidence base to be lled, and would enable mea-
surement of a broader range of relevant outcomes
(for example, customer satisfaction or potential
unintended consequences of interventions, such
as increased food waste). Further collaborative
research between industry and academia would also
allow more in-depth prioritization of interventions
to be conducted. This would involve integrating
future research that has determined the strength of
evidence for a particular intervention with industry
representative rankings of impact, cost, and feasi-
bility, thereby usefully combining scientic under-
standing with practical insights.
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64
APPENDIX : DETAILS ON THE METHODOLOGY USED TO BUILD THE PLAYBOOK
Scoping Review Search Strategy
To build the Playbook, we first drew inspiration from existing academic
research literature on the topic of dietary behavior change. To do
this, we conducted scoping searches of several academic databases
(PubMed, Environment Complete, Academic Search Complete, Lexus
Nexus, and USDA) between November 2018 and February 2019. To en-
sure that our search was manageable, we limited our database search
strategies to only locate publications from the year 2000 onward. The
search terms that we used to find publications in these databases
reflected our “Eligibility Criteria for the Review,” which are listed in
Table A1. An example of the search string that we used (from PubMed)
is also shown in Box A1.
These criteria were intended to allow us to locate original research
conducted in (or relevant to) real-life food service settings that
Table A1 | Eligibility Criteria for the Review
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA INCLUDE IF… EXCLUDE IF…
Study setting The study has been conducted in a real-life setting where
food is either chosen, purchased, or eaten, including
supermarkets, restaurants, cafés, canteens, or online
ordering platforms. Lab-based studies are eligible if the
intervention they are exploring could plausibly be used, or is
already being used, in the real-life settings.
The study focuses on in-home food preparation
and consumption or is a school-based study
targeting children.
Type of intervention The study states that its aim is to influence participants’
intentions or behavior in relation to selecting, purchasing,
or consuming a plant-rich food (e.g., a food or dish that
contains vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, pulses, nuts,
or seeds, with or without eggs, fish, and dairy, but does not
contain meat). The study does not specifically need to focus
on dietary behavior change for environmental benefits (e.g.,
health studies are eligible if they focus on plant-rich foods
like fruit and vegetables).
Also eligible are studies looking at ways to reduce
consumption of meat foods or dishes.
The study aims to influence general dietary
patterns or consumption of a specific nutrient
(e.g., “low fat” or “low salt”), without measuring
a specific plant-based food item from which the
nutrient is derived.
Outcome measure The study includes a between or within group comparison
of intentions or actual change in selection, purchasing, or
consumption of a specific plant-rich food product (e.g., fruit,
vegetables) or a dish (e.g., “soup” or “vegetarian lasagna”).
The study measures a diet-related physiological
or anthropometric measure (e.g., blood
pressure, body weight) only.
Study population Free-living adults, aged > 18 years. Institutionalized adults (e.g., in-patients,
prisoners) who do not have autonomy over
dietary choices.
Study design Original controlled or randomized controlled trials, quasi-
experiments or pre-posttest studies that compare a
minimum of two groups (i.e., control and intervention).
Reviews or meta-analyses, qualitative studies,
or protocol-only papers.
Date Studies published on or after 2000.
included a measure of change in the selection, purchasing, or
consumption of at least one plant-rich food, dish, or product. Eligible
settings included food service establishments (e.g., restaurants,
cafés, workplace canteens, kiosks) or food shopping establishments
(e.g., grocery stores, supermarkets). We decided to extend the search
beyond food service alone to allow us to draw insights from a large
pool of studies exploring food choice in retail settings, which has
some relevance to choice-making in self-service dining facilities. We
also included lab-based or online studies where these had tested an
intervention that was either already commonly used in “real-life” food
service or shopping environments (e.g., food-labeling studies) or could
plausibly be applied to these contexts. Eligible studies did not need to
be narrowly focused on the topic of plant-rich diets as we also wished
to learn from broader research on the topic of dietary behavior change
(e.g., for health reasons).
65Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
(canteen OR cafe OR cafeteria OR restaurant OR
supermarket OR retail OR takeout OR “take away” OR shop
OR store OR “food service” OR “food provider” OR meal)
AND
(RCT OR “randomized controlled trial” OR “randomized
controlled trial” OR “controlled trial” OR “quasi experiment*”
OR “pre posttest” OR “retrospective controlled group” OR
“prospective controlled study” OR “cohort study” OR “case-
controlled study” OR “cross sectional study”)
AND
(behavior OR behavior OR eat* OR consumption OR
purchase OR sales OR diet OR food OR consume OR
motivation OR intention OR attitude)
AND
(fruit OR vegetable OR “plant based” OR “plant forward” OR
meat OR beef OR lamb OR chicken OR dairy OR legumes OR
grains OR vegetarian OR vegan OR flexitarian)
BOX A | PUBMED SEARCH STRING
Only original research that compared two or more groups (e.g., either
between-group [e.g., intervention versus control] or within-group
[e.g., pre- versus posttest] comparisons) was included in this scoping
review. This limitation allowed us to identify original research and
screen out review papers. This provided us with access to the fullest
description of the interventions tested in each primary study, helping
us to unpack the exact techniques and processes involved in each
intervention (this level of detail is rarely reported in review papers).
For completeness, however, we also conducted forward reference
searches of any review that our search terms picked up, tracking down
any citations that were within scope. Moreover, we also performed a
broad search for other reviews on the topic of dietary behavior change
to identify further studies that our searches may have missed.
Scoping Review Search Results
Figure A1 presents a flow diagram summarizing the results of our data-
base search strategy and the process by which we removed ineligible
studies based on the aims of the review.
Our database searches located a total of 4,201 potentially eligible pub-
lications, to which a further 292 were added from a forward reference
search of these reviews (e.g., hand-searching reference lists to identify
potentially eligible primary studies). Two researchers then systemati-
cally screened the titles and abstracts of these publications against the
eligibility criteria, removing obviously ineligible papers and taking the
remainder (196 studies) forward to full text review.
Of this shortlist, a further 109 papers were deemed ineligible upon full
text review (see the flow diagram for reasons), leaving us with a final
total of 89 studies that were taken forward and used as the basis for
creating the Playbook.
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66
Figure A1 | Review Search and Exclusion Flow Diagram
Ineligible
study design
During duplicate
screen
During abstract
screen
During title screen
Total screened
Ineligible outcome
measures
Ineligible setting
Ineligible
population
Ineligible
publication date
Linked publication
Other reason
89 Papers
Research papers
INCLUDED
in the review
198 Papers
4,493 Papers
Research papers
subjected to
full-text review
Research papers IDENTIFIED
From database searches (PubMed, USDA, Environment Complete) From forward reference list searches
4,201 292
+
−191
−3,802
−302
ELIGIBILITY
SCREENING
Research Papers Excluded
Research Papers Excluded
−35
−33
−18
−3
−1
−6
−13
Source: Authors.
67Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
The Better Buying Lab is an initiative of the World
Resources Institute, a global research organization
that turns big ideas into action to sustain our natural
resources—the foundation of economic opportunity and
human well-being.
Launched in August 2016, the Lab brings together the
brightest and best minds from consumer research,
behavioral economics, and marketing strategy—along with
companies in the food industry—to research, test, and
scale new strategies and plans that help consumers select
sustainable foods.
BOX A | THE BETTER BUYING LAB
Coding and Clustering Interventions
Next we performed a data extraction exercise on the 89 eligible publi-
cations. This involved our developing a coding scheme that we used to
classify all the dierent components that made up each intervention at
the most granular level of distinction possible (i.e., intervention tech-
niques were coded at a level where no fur ther reduction was possible).
This granular approach permitted us to pick apart all the elements that
comprised the vast number of multicomponent interventions available
in the literature (e.g., where multiple interventions are tested together
at the same time), rather than simply clumping these elements
together as a single group.
In more detail, this scheme involved classifying each intervention by
combining two sets of codes that represented the mode of intervention
delivery (e.g., labeled A–J, for example, face-to-face, leaflets or newslet-
ter, packaging, posters and signs, digital media, mass media, physical
environment, or the product itself) and the behavior change technique
delivered (e.g., labeled 1–97, based on the 93 techniques listed under
the “Behavior Change Technique Taxonomy,” plus an additional four
that we developed to code interventions that involved food product
reformulation [Michie et al. 2013]).
In addition, we also ex tracted data on other key elements of each study
using a separate data extraction form. This form included informa-
tion on study aims, design features, participants, setting, outcome
measures, and if the study identified the intervention as eective at
shifting participants’ diets. Data extraction was conducted by one
researcher, with 20 percent of data extractions cross-checked by a
second researcher.
Once we had coded all our eligible studies, we then organized our
codes into five dierent groups we believe represent the main targets
for intervention in food service settings. We called this the 5P frame-
work, representing Product, Placement, Presentation, Promotion, and
People.
Industry Consultation and
Playbook Iteration
Once we had finalized the first version of the Playbook, we showed
this to group of food industry and sustainability representatives (N =
18 individuals), including representatives from the Better Buying Lab’s
member and partner organizations (see Box A2). These individuals
were asked to review the Playbook’s contents and provide written
feedback on the overall structure and presentation, as well as give
details of any additional interventions that they thought were missing
from the current edit, based on their own experience working in food
service. This writ ten feedback was followed up with a telephone call, to
clarify any points of confusion and understand priorities for editing the
Playbook to produce a more audience-appropriate edit.
The changes that we made to version 1 of the Playbook based on this
feedback involved amalgamating and refining the interventions listed
under four of the 5Ps. Other general recommendations included a
suggestion to clarify the audience for the Playbook to ensure that the
final product is targeted appropriately, and to include case studies, im-
ages, and easily readable instructions in the final version to make each
intervention clear and easy to implement.
Following these suggested edits, we developed the final structure of
the Playbook, containing 57 interventions underneath our five over-
arching “P” categories.
Industry Ranking
Next we developed an online survey (via the platform Survey Gizmo)
and publicized this to a larger sample of industry representatives with
the intention that these individuals would help score the 57 interven-
tions in the Playbook. Based on final scores, our goal was to produce
a prioritized list of “best bet” interventions based on those that ranked
above the average (median) score. Participation in this survey was
advertised via WRI’s social media assets and through the networks of
the WRI Food Program’s industry partners.
For each intervention, participants were asked to reflect on what
the approach involved and to rate it according to two key criteria: (1)
whether they thought the approach would be eective at shifting the
preferences of their own customers away from meat and toward plant-
rich options (the “impact criteria”: “How well do you think this interven-
tion would work to shift customers’ choices away from meat and toward
plant-rich dishes?” Intervention X description) and (2) whether they
thought the approach would be feasible to use in their own operations
(the “feasibility criteria”: “How feasible do you think this intervention
would be to do in practice?” Intervention X description). Each question
was answered according to a seven-point sliding scale. Participants
were each randomized to see a subset of 15 interventions from the full
list of 57 to prevent response fatigue and dropout.
In total, we received valid responses from 69 industry representatives.
This sample included representatives based in 16 dierent countries
(see Figure A2) across 44 dierent organizations in 9 dierent sectors
(see Figure A3). Some of the 44 organizations were large multination-
als spanning more than one sector. Each intervention was ranked
approximately 20 times.
Following data collection, intervention scores were summed and
ranked and the median values were calculated for both the impact and
feasibility criteria across the full sample. We then shortlisted all inter-
ventions that fell above the median score threshold on both criteria,
which left us with 23 industry rated “best bet” interventions that form
the content of this Playbook.
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68
Figure A2 | Number of Industry Representatives by Country
Figure A3 | Number of Industry Representatives by Organization Type
0 4 8 12 16 20 242 6 10 14 18 22
Philippines
Mexico
Jamaica
Ireland
Haiti
Greece
Germany
France
Australia
Armenia
Peru
Denmark
India
Netherlands
United Kingdom
United States
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Government
Hotel and Leisure Provider
University Dining Facility
Healthcare Dining Facility
Other
Food Manufacturing
Restaurant
Food-Related Nonprofit Organization
Food Service Operator
Source: Authors.
Source: Authors.
69Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
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Andrei DZyF; pg. 52, Facundo Ruiz; pg. 60, Deryn Macey; pg. 62, Clem Onojeghuo.
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75Playbook for Guiding Diners toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
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... To meaningfully flatten the rising curve of animal-sourced foods, demand-side interventions should be implemented, tested, and scaled ambitiously (63). Even gentle changes to dining options and presentation can create large effects (64). Effective interventions range from these subtle "nudges" to more blatant rewards and incentives, as well as stringent regulations and restrictions (16,55). ...
... More targeted dietary change interventions are needed; recommendations for dietary change policies across most scientific literature are general and vague (16,55). Policies can leverage social, behavioral, and organizational sciences to change the underlying motivations and choice environments that drive consumer decisions (64,67). Small successes should also be better communicated to decision-makers and ambitiously scaled to large populations with help from community-based advocacy and organizing (68). ...
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Infectious diseases originating from animals (zoonotic diseases) have emerged following deforestation from agriculture. Agriculture can reduce its land use through intensification, i.e., improving resource use efficiency. However, intensive management often confines animals and their wastes, which also fosters disease emergence. Therefore, rising demand for animal-sourced foods creates a "trap" of zoonotic disease risks: extensive land use on one hand or intensive animal management on the other. Not all intensification poses disease risks; some methods avoid confinement and improve animal health. However, these "win-win" improvements alone cannot satisfy rising meat demand, particularly for chicken and pork. Intensive poultry and pig production entails greater antibiotic use, confinement, and animal populations than beef production. Shifting from beef to chicken consumption mitigates climate emissions, but this common strategy neglects zoonotic disease risks. Preventing zoonotic diseases requires international coordination to reduce the high demand for animal-sourced foods, improve forest conservation governance, and selectively intensify the lowest-producing ruminant animal systems without confinement.
... There are a variety of interventions that have been identified in correlational studies but have not been experimentally tested or systematically reviewed (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2017). Behaviour change interventions that could promote sustainable diets and the adoption of more plant-based meals have been suggested by the World Resources Institute (Attwood et al., 2020) and the Behavioural Insights Team (2020). Although these reports did not meet our inclusion criteria due to their unsystematic searches, they provide an indication of interventions that could be assessed. ...
... Evidence regarding other interventions may be available in the form of non-systematic reviews, and primary studies not included in systematic reviews. For example, a review by Animal Charity Evaluators (2017) (Attwood et al., 2020). However, this report was excluded as the review results are not explicitly discussed (but are used to inform their recommendations). ...
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Transitioning toward plant-based diets can alleviate health and sustainability challenges. However, research on interventions that influence animal-product consumption remains fragmented and inaccessible to researchers and practitioners. We conducted an overview of systematic reviews, also known as a meta-review. We searched five databases for reviews that examined interventions that influence (increase or decrease) the consumption of animal products. We quantitatively summarised results using individual studies' directions of effect because reviews rarely reported effect sizes of primary studies. Eighteen reviews met inclusion criteria, 12 of which examined interventions intended to decrease animal-product consumption and 6 of which examined interventions intended to increase animal-product consumption. In total, only two reviews conducted quantitative meta-analyses. Across all reviews, vote counting indicated that providing information on the environmental impact of meat consumption may reduce consumption, with 10 of 11 estimates suggesting reduced consumption (91% [95% CI 62.3%, 98.4%]; p = .012). Providing information on the health consequences, emphasising social norms, and reducing meat portion sizes also appeared promising, albeit with more limited evidence. Reviews examining interventions that decreased consumption predominately focused on meat (10/12 reviews). Future reviews should conduct quantitative syntheses where appropriate and examine interventions that influence the consumption of animal products other than meat.
... There are a variety of interventions that have been identified in correlational studies but have not been experimentally tested or systematically reviewed (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2017). Behaviour change interventions that could promote sustainable diets and the adoption of more plant-based meals have been suggested by the World Resources Institute (Attwood et al., 2020) and the Behavioural Insights Team (2020). Although these reports did not meet our inclusion criteria due to their unsystematic searches, they provide an indication of interventions that could be assessed. ...
... Evidence regarding other interventions may be available in the form of non-systematic reviews, and primary studies not included in systematic reviews. For example, a review by Animal Charity Evaluators (2017) (Attwood et al., 2020). However, this report was excluded as the review results are not explicitly discussed (but are used to inform their recommendations). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Transitioning toward more plant-based diets can alleviate health and sustainability challenges. However, research on interventions that influence animal-product consumption remains fragmented and inaccessible to researchers and practitioners. We conducted an overview of systematic reviews, also known as a meta-review. We searched five databases for reviews that examined interventions that influence (increase or decrease) the consumption of animal products. We quantitatively summarised results using individual studies' directions of effect because reviews rarely reported effect sizes of primary studies. We also discussed the contexts in which the evidence for interventions appeared strongest in light of the broader literature on behaviour change. Eighteen systematic reviews met inclusion criteria, 12 of which examined interventions intended to decrease animal-product consumption and 6 of which examined interventions intended to increase animal-product consumption. In total, only two reviews conducted quantitative meta-analyses. Across all reviews, vote counting based on the direction of individual studies’ estimates indicated that providing information on the environmental impact of meat consumption may reduce consumption, with 10 of 11 estimates suggesting reduced consumption (91% [95% CI 62.3%, 98.4%]; p = .012). Providing information on the health consequences of meat consumption, emphasising social norms, and reducing meat portion sizes also appeared promising, albeit with more limited strength of evidence. Reviews examining interventions that decreased consumption predominately focused on meat (10/12 reviews). Future reviews should conduct quantitative syntheses where appropriate and could more frequently examine interventions that influence the consumption of animal products other than meat.
... dietary patterns (Naska et al., 2006). Diet change behaviour is most sensitive to social norms and self-efficacy (Eker et al., 2019), and therefore, measures to change social norms, such as advocating for new defaults in foodservice (Attwood et al., 2020;Perez-Cueto, 2021;Saulais et al., 2019) may contribute substantially to adopting healthier and more sustainable dietary patterns, while empowering consumers to improve their food decisions (Nørnberg et al., 2016). ...
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A diet shift towards a more plant-based food consumption is advocated for sustainable, health and ethical reasons. Still, a diet change remains a societal challenge. The objective of this paper is to identify how barriers towards plant-based food consumption are experienced according to dietary lifestyle in 10 European countries. A pan-EU consumer survey was conducted as part of Smart Protein Project. In total 7590 answers were obtained (49.5% women). Omnivores were more likely to score higher in the barriers to diet shift than vegetarians, vegans or flexitarians. Large effect sizes (Eta squared >0.1) were observed for the following barriers a) the lay belief that humans are meant to eat lots of animal-based meat; b) the expectation that plant-based food products would not be tasty enough; c) and the experience of not enjoying such products. Medium effect sizes (Eta sq. > 0.06) were observed for variables addressing nutrition related barriers “would not be filling enough” and “I would not get energy or strength from these products”. Promotion of plant-based food consumption should be targeted according to diet lifestyle, with focus on their sensory characteristics and on addressing cultural (lay) beliefs e.g. through knowledge sharing.
... Moving beyond consumer education campaigns to improving presentation and marketing of plantbased foods and plant-rich dishes can help make the more sustainable choice the more desirable choice. Behavioral science is showing that "nudges" that change the placement, presentation, and promotion of plantcentered meals can increase sales of climate-friendly options (Attwood et al. 2020). Businesses and civil society can both be more sophisticated in helping guide consumers toward more sustainable choices. ...
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Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires far-reaching transformations across power generation, buildings, industry, transport, land use, coastal zone management, and agriculture, as well as the immediate scale-up of technological carbon removal and climate finance. This report translates these transitions into 40 targets for 2030 and 2050, with measurable indicators. Transformations, particularly those driven by new technology adoption, often unfold slowly before accelerating after crossing a tipping point. Nearly a quarter of indicators assessed new technology adoption, with some already growing exponentially. This report considers such nonlinear change in its methodology. The transitions required to avoid the worst climate impacts are not happening fast enough. Of the 40 indicators assessed, none are on track to reach 2030 targets. Change is heading in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed for 8 and in the right direction but well below the required pace for 17. Progress has stagnated for 3, while change for another 3 is heading in the wrong direction entirely. Data are insufficient to evaluate the remaining 9. This report also identifies underlying conditions that enable change—supportive policies, innovations, strong institutions, leadership, and shifts in social norms. Finance for climate action, for example, must increase nearly 13-fold to meet the estimated need in 2030.
... A variety of strategies exist to reduce consumption of meat and milk. They can include changes in how plantcentered meal options are presented and offered in restaurants and supermarkets, labeling strategies, and promotion of plant-based meat alternatives (Temme et al. 2020;Attwood et al. 2020). ...
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Can the world meet growing demand for food while sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture – and without converting more forests into agriculture? In the World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future, WRI set forth a challenging, global five-course menu of actions to do so. How should a country adapt this menu to its own agricultural context? A Pathway to Carbon Neutral Agriculture in Denmark answers this question for Denmark, a country whose major agricultural organizations have committed to become carbon neutral by 2050. A number of lessons are noteworthy, including: The importance of investing in developing, deploying and continuously improving agricultural technologies to mitigate climate change; Nations can’t reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions just by producing less food—that would just shift emissions to other countries. Rather, the world will need to produce more food, but on the same (or less) amount of land as today; and Increased food production must be linked with progress on reducing emissions and restoring forests and peatlands. The report’s lessons can inform not only Denmark’s agricultural future, but also that of other advanced agricultural economies.
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Organizations are increasingly committing to biodiversity protection targets with focus on ‘nature-positive’ outcomes, yet examples of how to feasibly achieve these targets are needed. Here we propose an approach to achieve nature-positive targets with respect to the embodied biodiversity impacts of an organization’s food consumption. We quantify these impacts using a comprehensive database of life-cycle environmental impacts from food, and map exploratory strategies to meet defined targets structured according to a mitigation and conservation hierarchy. By considering the varying needs and values across the organization’s internal community, we identify a range of targeted approaches towards mitigating impacts, which balance top-down and bottom-up actions to different degrees. Delivering ambitious nature-positive targets within current constraints will be challenging, particularly given the need to mitigate cumulative impacts. Our results evidence that however committed an organization is to being nature positive in its food provision, this is unachievable in the absence of systems change. This Analysis illustrates how nature-positive targets aimed at protecting biodiversity can be achieved at the scale of organizations. A canteen at one UK university college is used as a case study for the application of a four-step participatory approach comprising an estimation of food-related biodiversity impacts; definition of biodiversity targets; assessment of possible interventions; and exploration of different strategies.
Thesis
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Widespread adoption of plant-rich diets is a key climate change mitigation strategy. Restaurants are one of many environments where diets must shift toward more sustainable directions. Researchers have studied behavior change strategies in these contexts, including information provision and choice architecture. However, few have been tested in the field, and the literature has under-addressed the barriers restaurants face in implementation. Additionally, the designs of these interventions have rarely been informed by the restaurant stakeholders who will be enacting the intervention, nor by the customers affected by the intervention, which may lower the probability of its acceptance and success. Integrative designers are uniquely positioned to address these shortcomings. They examine broader systems at play, identify opportunities to change the system, skillfully create artifacts to support those opportunities, and deeply collaborate with stakeholders throughout research and implementation. This work implemented a series of design interventions in collaboration with El Harissa, an independent restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to increase the selection of low-carbon, plant-rich dishes as a climate change mitigation measure. The design practitioner engaged with the restaurant’s owners, staff, and customers in a five-phase design process integrating Design for Sustainable Behavior and Co-Design. Three behavior change strategies were integrated into custom menu materials: descriptive environmental messaging, carbon labeling, and taste-forward menu descriptions. Preliminary results from the two-week piloting of these materials indicate that the average emissions per sold dish declined by two percent compared to the control period. In-field observations by the design practitioner and restaurant manager found that the carbon labels prompted positive conversations between customers and staff, highlighting the synergies between quantitative and interpersonal approaches to shift customer behavior. Potential future applications of this design process include additional iterations of carbon labeling visual systems and exploring additional behavior change strategies to support sustainable food choices in restaurant contexts.
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Food production accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gases, making shifting people’s diets toward lower carbon foods a critical strategy for reducing emissions. This study finds that displaying thoughtfully framed environmental messages on restaurant menus can significantly increase customers' uptake of lower carbon, plant-rich dishes. WRI finds that the two most effective descriptive messages doubled the chance that a consumer would order a vegetarian menu item. These themes are “small changes can make a big difference” and “join a movement of people choosing foods with less impact on the climate.” Restaurants and food businesses should use these findings to increase sales of lower carbon menu items while helping consumers choose foods that fit a climate-friendly lifestyle. While the WRI study was done online with more than 6,000 participants, the findings can be adapted and tailored to a wide variety of retail and food service contexts. More research and real-world learnings will further our base of knowledge. This study, however, shows that adding environmental messaging can be an easy, cost-effective and promising way for companies to see impact and shift consumer choices toward more climate-friendly options.