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Menu design approaches to promote sustainable vegetarian food choices when dining out

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Abstract

Shifting dietary choices towards vegetarian food is an urgent challenge given the environmental impact of livestock production and imminent need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Previous research has proven the value of low cost, scalable menu design interventions to influence people's food choices, without the need for large-scale educational campaigns. Here we present two online randomized control trials to determine the effectiveness of different menu design approaches on nudging participants' food choices away from meat and towards vegetarian dishes to provide guidance to the food service sector. In study one we explore the impact that availability of vegetarian items has on choice. Participants were allocated to menus whereby 75%, 50% or 25% of items were vegetarian. We show that meat eaters were significantly more likely to choose a vegetarian meal when presented with a menu where 75% of items were vegetarian, but not when half were vegetarian. This finding highlights that saturating the choice environment is required to promote vegetarian food. In study two, we explore the impact of vegetarian symbols (V) on menus to determine if these are used by meat eaters as exclusion decision filters, as is seen in previous work with menus containing ‘vegetarian’ dish sections. Here we show that placement of V symbols, to either the left or right of the dish label, has no impact on choice. These studies provide insights into how the environmental footprint of the food service sector can potentially be reduced via easy and scalable menu design approaches.

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... The default nudge is part of a specific class of choice architecture tools that are especially effective in the domain of food behaviors (Campbell-Arvai et al., 2012;Mertens et al., 2022). Defaults have been shown to shift diets toward healthier and more sustainable food options, which suggests that they might be effective for reducing meat consumption (Vecchio and Cavallo, 2019;Parkin and Atwood, 2022). Despite this promising evidence, a recent literature review by Meier's et al. (2021) emphasized that research on default nudges specifically for reducing meat consumption is still limited. ...
... Another study reordering meals presented at a cafeteria counter increased vegetarian meals selected, but only if the vegetarian and meat meals were placed far apart (Garnett et al., 2019). Parkin and Atwood (2022) found that for menus to effectively encourage diners to choose vegetarian options over meat, menus needed to be at least 75% vegetarian options. A more recent publication by Nykänen et al. (2022) also found that two experimental nudges intended to reduce red meat consumption (a "dish of the day" nudge approach, and "sequence alteration" approach) had no effect on the choices made for the main dish, nor the proportion of meat in the overall meal weight. ...
... Previous studies investigating the default nudge have explored and shown positive effects of the intervention over time and partial persistence of behavior change after the intervention ended (Kurz, 2018). Additionally, a recent experiment on menu design for promoting sustainable food choices showed that people were more likely to choose vegetarian meals when the menu was at least 75% vegetarian (Parkin and Atwood, 2022). Future researchers could take Parkin and Atwood's findings a step further to test if the number of meal choices influence the selection of the plant-based default. ...
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Background Literature suggests limiting consumption of animal products is key to reducing emissions and adverse planetary impacts. However, influencing dietary behavior to achieve planetary health targets remains a formidable problem. Objective We investigated the effect of changing the default meal option at catered events–from meat to plant-based–on participants' meal choices using three parallel-group, balanced, randomized controlled trials (RCT), and use these experimental results to project differences in plant-based default vs. meat default events on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) (kg CO 2 − eq ), land use (m ² ), nitrogen (g N), and phosphorus (g P) footprint. Methods Data collection was performed at three catered events ( n = 280) across two college campuses. The selected experimental sites used convenience sampling. Events consisted of a graduate orientation, sorority dinner, and academic conference. Eligibility of individual participants included being 18 years or older and an invitation to RSVP for an enrolled event. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the control group received a RSVP form that presented a meat meal as the default catering option; whereas the intervention group received a form that presented a plant-based meal as the default. The primary outcome of interest in each group was the proportion of participants who selected plant-based meals. To explore environmental impacts, we modeled the footprints of four hypothetical meals. Using these meals and RCT results, the impact (GHGE, land use, nitrogen, phosphorus) of two hypothetical 100-person events was calculated and compared. Results In all, participants assigned to the plant-based default were 3.52 (95% CI: [2.44, 5.09]) times more likely to select plant-based meals than those assigned to the meat default. Using these results, a comparison of hypothetical events serving modeled meat-based and plant-based meals showed a reduction of up to 42.3% in GHGEs as well as similar reductions in land use (41.8%), nitrogen (38.9%), and phosphorus (42.7%). Conclusion Results demonstrated plant-based default menu options are effective, providing a low-effort, high-impact way to decrease consumption of animal products in catered events. These interventions can reduce planetary impact while maintaining participant choice.
... Considering these propositions, one interpretation to our findings is that the vegan and vegetarian nomenclatures may have been seen as more exclusive and identity-prescriptive by the participants in our samples, whereas the products that were labelled as plant-based may have been seen as more inclusive and therefore more attractive. This is also consistent with recent findings that vegetarian dishes were less likely to be chosen when they were framed as vegetarian, compared to a pro-environmental frame, a social frame, and a neutral frame (i.e., vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes mixed into the same section of the menu; Krpan & Houtsma, 2020, but see Parkin &Attwood, 2022 andRosenfeld et al., 2022). ...
... Considering these propositions, one interpretation to our findings is that the vegan and vegetarian nomenclatures may have been seen as more exclusive and identity-prescriptive by the participants in our samples, whereas the products that were labelled as plant-based may have been seen as more inclusive and therefore more attractive. This is also consistent with recent findings that vegetarian dishes were less likely to be chosen when they were framed as vegetarian, compared to a pro-environmental frame, a social frame, and a neutral frame (i.e., vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes mixed into the same section of the menu; Krpan & Houtsma, 2020, but see Parkin &Attwood, 2022 andRosenfeld et al., 2022). ...
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Market actors have a role to play in enabling sustainable food transitions. One challenge for these actors is how to promote plant-based foods in ways that appeal to a growing number of consumers. Here we test how different plant-based related labels affect consumer appraisals of a range of foods (cookies, sausages, cheese, chocolate, pasta). In two studies (pre-registered; NUSA=1148, NGermany=491), we examined the effects of a ‘vegetarian’, ‘vegan’, or ‘plant-based’ label (compared to no label) on five attributes (healthy, tasty, ethical, pure, environmentally friendly) related to the products. We also measured self-reported likelihood to purchase the products. Overall, the results indicated that the ‘plant-based’ label was slightly more appealing toparticipants than the ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ labels. However, contrary to our expectations, neither consumers’ information-seeking tendencies nor their pre-existing attitudes toward plant-based foods influenced (i.e., moderated) the effects of the labels. Anticipated taste was a strong and consistent predictor of purchase likelihood for all labelled products, but the ethical and pure attributes also accounted for unique variance in this outcome variable. Taken together, our findings and discussion provide insights into the role of labels and label terminology on consumer appraisals of plant-based foods.
... In fact, vegetarians are a minority group and their behaviour may be seen as "deviant" from the norm (Romo and Donovan-Kicken, 2012). In practice, previous research found that it either had a negative impact on sales of vegetarian dishes (Bacon and Krpan, 2018) or had no significant effect on consumer choice (Parkin and Attwood, 2022). Some argue that any alternative framing to "vegetarian" is better than "vegetarian" itself: Krpan and Houtsma (2020) found that a proenvironmental label ("Environmentally friendly main course for a happy planet"), a social label ("Refreshing main courses for relaxing conversations"), and a neutral frame (no distinction between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes) all led to the vegetarian choice being selected more compared to when it was described as vegetarian. ...
... Sales of vegetarian products increased when these were placed in the meat aisles in supermarkets, however this did not decrease the sales of meat products . When vegetarian dishes made up most of the menu, more participants selected them, compared to when they were scarce (Parkin and Attwood, 2022). These are examples of decision structure nudges. ...
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Finding ways to steer consumers' food choices towards vegetarian and plant-based meals is important to reduce our diets' environmental impact. This paper investigates how nudges in restaurants can be effectively used to increase sales of vegetarian and plant-based dishes. We partnered with two restaurants, which can host up to 130 guests in total and are in the same building, and we tested the effect of three nudge-based interventions on the sales of vegetarian and plant-based dishes. We found that removing the symbols for vegetarian and plant-based dishes increased the sales of those starters by 10.2 pp., and of those mains by 6.2 pp. When a low emissions symbol was added to the menu to replace the symbols for vegetarian and plant-based dishes, it did not affect sales. However, when the same nudge was made transparent through a statement explaining its purpose on the menu, the sales of those starters increased by 14.1 pp. This result suggests that nudges can be used ethically and still be effective. Overall, these findings support the use of nudges as cost-effective interventions to tackle the issue of unsustainable food consumption in the hospitality sector.
... Stressing the fact that a dish is "vegetarian" or "free from meat" has proven to be less effective compared to the use of other framing options [26]. Specifically, the use of the "V" symbol placed before or after the titles of vegetarian dishes did not exert a significant influence on food choice in an online study involving UK consumers [27]. On the other hand, descriptive name labels referring to sustainability have proven to effectively influence decisions in a university canteen setting [17], suggesting a higher level of attractiveness for such descriptions compared to the healthy/nutritional dimension. ...
... Our results appear to be consistent with what was observed in an online randomised controlled trial [27], suggesting that, to allow the large-scale selection of vegetarian dishes, the offer of these dishes should widely overcome that of meat options (75% vs. 25%). However, mixed findings have emerged from the literature, as a prior study [28] proved that a perfect balance between meat and vegetarian (50% vs. 50%) options was enough to entail a relevant shift in vegetarian options in four dish menus. ...
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Enhancing healthy and sustainable food systems is one of the key goals of the current European Commission policy. In this light, the creation of a food environment where people are properly informed about the healthiness and sustainability of food choices is essential. This study aimed to evaluate the nutritional profile and the environmental impact of meals consumed in a workplace canteen in Italy in the presence of a nudge (i.e., the Double Pyramid logo) combined with a web-based application promoting the Mediterranean Diet. Energy and nutrient contents and the carbon, water, and ecological footprints of 29,776 meals were compared across three subsequent periods (from June to April) through one-way ANOVA. Although the choice of dishes labelled with the Double Pyramid logo was comparable across periods, the selection of fish- and plant-based dishes increased from +2% (fish, vegetables) up to +17% (whole-grain cereals), with a concurrent reduction of meat-based options (−2%). Although the consumption of healthy items increased (p < 0.001), they were not added as a replacement for alternative options, leading to a higher content in energy (p < 0.001) and nutrients (p < 0.001) and worse environmental footprints, contrarily to what was observed when data were adjusted for energy. The intervention significantly improved food choices; however, as the higher selection of desired dishes was not adequately compensated for, it was not fully effective.
... Since out-of-home consumption has increased tremendously in recent decades in Vietnam [2], introducing vegetarian options in community catering and restaurants can have a big impact on sustainability in food [2]. In general, the food environment should be designed in a way to effectively influence choice architectures, for example, by making the vegetarian option an easy choice via nudging [24,88,89]. ...
Article
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High meat consumption is a phenomenon in both developed countries such as Switzer-land and emerging countries such as Vietnam. This high meat consumption is associated with environmental, social, and health consequences. Drawing upon social practice theory, this study explores the influence of social practices on the meat consumption of green consumers, as a growing number of consumers in both countries want to eat healthy and sustainably but still have different needs and face different barriers. Data were collected from online group discussions. For green consumers, meat consumption was found to convey certain meanings and depends, among other things, on the information available. The consumption decision in Vietnam is strongly influenced by health and food safety, whereas negative environmental consequences are important in Switzerland. Social and cultural aspects also play a major part in the decision to eat or abstain from meat in both countries. Meat is a non-negotiable part of any special occasion meal in Vietnam and is often eaten at social gatherings in Switzerland. We argue that meat consumption is linked to social status in both countries, but family influence is stronger in Vietnam than in Switzerland. Interventions, such as policy measures that are adapted to regional, cultural, and consumer group specificities and focus on social practices rather than individual behavior, are a promising means to promote meat reduction.
... Although vegan and vegetarian options have increased on restaurant menus in recent years, many restaurants are hesitant to add vegan dishes to their menus (25). The diversification of delicious and attractive vegan menus, which will be prepared with care by restaurants, will increase the alternatives for those who prefer this diet and love this cuisine. ...
Article
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Nutrition, which is a physiological need, is directly related to gastronomy and is affected by many factors , including geographical, cultural, environmental, climatic, and socioeconomic factors. Today, there are many popular diets and veganism, which has become a lifestyle and philosophy by spreading all over the world, is one of the best examples of these diets. With the spread of veganism, vegan cuisine has started to emerge it is not possible to use animal products in this kitchen. For this reason, food groups shall be well positioned in the menus or recipes created. The purpose of this research was to ascertain the role and significance of veganism and vegan cuisine in gastronomy, as well as their effects and relationship to it. The descriptive analysis method, one of the qualitative research designs , was used in the study, and the results were categorized and interpreted based on their themes. As a result of the descriptive analysis applied to the findings , the importance, role, and effect of veganism in gastronomy were divided into two main themes: (1) vegan cuisine; (2) vegan culture. In addition, four sub-themes were identified: (1) the vegan restaurant; (2) the relationship of vegan cuisine with health; (3) the relationship of veganism with art; and (4) the relationship and effect of veganism on gastronomy. Although veganism is a concept derived from vegetarianism, it has taken a long way in a very short time and started to create new cuisines with vegan culture. Article info
... Nudging people towards healthy-eating habits has been widely researched over the last few years [see (22) for a review]. For instance, Parkin and Attwood (23) investigated menu composition and the impact of vegetarian symbols. Their study reveals that a minimum of 75% of dishes need to be vegetarian to prompt diners to choose a vegetarian dish, while a vegetarian symbol did not impact on choice. ...
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Introduction Increasing obesity rates around the globe have challenged policymakers to find strategies to prompt healthier eating habits. While unhealthy eating takes place in many different contexts, dining out is a context where individuals often choose an unhealthy option despite the availability of healthier alternatives. One possible explanation for this behavior is the unhealthy-tasty intuition, which refers to the belief that unhealthy food is tastier than healthy food. Nevertheless, many policymakers and restaurant managers follow the – in this context – counterintuitive approach of using health claims to nudge people towards more healthy eating choices or habits. Methods The current research employs an online experiment with 137 participants and investigates how health claims and sensory claims impact on the purchase intention of healthy options for desserts. Furthermore, it explores how health inferences and taste expectations mediate the intention to purchase. Results and discussion Findings from the online experiment confirm that health claims prompt positive health inferences, while also stimulating unfavorable taste expectations, resulting in a lower intention to purchase. Surprisingly, we found no effect of a sensory claim on taste expectations. The findings of our experiment contradict the unhealthy-tasty intuition by revealing a significant positive correlation between taste expectations and health inferences. While both health inferences and taste expectations impact positively on purchasing intentions for the health-claim condition, the indirect effect of taste expectations was stronger than the indirect effect of health inferences.
... Furthermore, the settings of these experiments were mainly online [156,159,269], in research laboratories [135,209], or in restaurants or cafeterias [186]. Manipulations varied depending on the research objective, but many involved the use of exposures to different stimuli, such as informational text messages [110,114,187], images of food [5,86,111,167], or manipulated menu design [110,125,186]. ...
Article
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Meat production and consumption are sources of animal cruelty, responsible for several environmental problems and human health diseases, and contribute to social inequality. Vegetarianism and veganism (VEG) are two alternatives that align with calls for a transition to more ethical, sustainable, and healthier lifestyles. Following the PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a systematic literature review of 307 quantitative studies on VEG (from 1978 to 2023), collected from the Web of Science in the categories of psychology, behavioral science, social science, and consumer behavior. For a holistic view of the literature and to capture its multiple angles, we articulated our objectives by responding to the variables of “WHEN,” “WHERE,” “WHO,” “WHAT,” “WHY,” “WHICH,” and “HOW” (6W1H) regarding the VEG research. Our review highlighted that quantitative research on VEG has experienced exponential growth with an unbalanced geographical focus, accompanied by an increasing richness but also great complexity in the understating of the VEG phenomenon. The systematic literature review found different approaches from which the authors studied VEG while identifying methodological limitations. Additionally, our research provided a systematic view of factors studied on VEG and the variables associated with VEG-related behavior change. Accordingly, this study contributes to the literature in the field of VEG by mapping the most recent trends and gaps in research, clarifying existing findings, and suggesting directions for future research.
... Providing a separate sustainable menu could thus encourage more sustainable food choices and reduce the consumption of energy-intensive foods [66,67]. A sustainable menu could be identified with such elements as vegetarian/vegan alternatives [68], carbon footprint labels [43], local food labels [69], and rankings of general environmental impacts [41]. In terms of minimising waste, food waste and disposables (e.g., glass, paper/cardboard, plastics) produced by restaurants have caused environmental issues, particularly with respect to emissions and land fill [70]. ...
Article
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Sustainable practices are increasingly promoted in the restaurant industry. One significant aspect of sustainability in restaurants is the use of local supply chains, especially for food, which also serve as a means for restaurants to promote freshness of produce, sourcing, and quality. Considering the prevalence of locality in menu marketing, this study aims to explore the relationships between sustainability and locality at fine-dining restaurants. Michelin-starred restaurants are significant influencers in the restaurant industry, as well as food fashions overall, and may therefore serve to promote sustainability practices. This study examines the sustainability of 135 Michelin three-star restaurants by conducting website content analysis. By identifying restaurants’ sustainable practices during the processes of procurement, preparation, and presentation and analysing the official websites of 135 Michelin three-star restaurants, this study finds that although all sustainable practices are mentioned by less than half of the reviewed websites, most practices could be interpreted as being embedded in their locality, especially local food and restaurant history. This study suggests that promoting locality could therefore help sustain sustainability in the fine-dining restaurant industry. Although this study is limited to the website content of official websites for Michelin three-star restaurants, it provides potentially valuable insights on the promotion of sustainable restaurant practices.
... The primary intent of this exercise was to understand if particular ingredients, 71 preparations, or other attributes within a dish resonated with customers. These insights would then inform new plant-rich dishes at El Harissa and potentially increase the ratio of plant-rich dishes to meat dishes within their menu, an effective strategy to increase plant-rich dish selectionParkin and Attwood 2022). The secondary intent of this thinking-through-making exercise was to prime participants for discussion about plant-rich diets. ...
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.
... An interesting study using 'Decoy Affect' theory indicated that having a greater number of vegetarian options available when eating out had limited effect on vegetarian options being taken, (Attwood, Chesworth and Parkin, 2020) with another study (Parkin and Attwood, 2021) asserting that 75% of menu options need to be vegetarian in order to significantly shift citizen behaviour. The impact of social norms as regards to meat eating were posited as the reason for this, which resonated with a different study where injunctive social norms introduced by a social network member were advanced as being most powerful in changing citizen eating behaviour, as part of the social learning process (Schubert, de Groot and Newton, 2021). ...
Technical Report
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We commissioned the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London and collaborative partners to carry out a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) on UK citizen perceptions of food sustainability. Overview The main research question addressed is: What does sustainability mean to UK citizens when it comes to food and diet? The report addresses the following secondary questions: How does the UK academic literature define sustainability, ‘sustainable food’ and ‘sustainable diet’? How do citizens’ perceptions compare to the academic definition? What does sustainability mean to industry when it comes to food and diet? A number of sub-questions and themes were explored to answer the main research question, such as understanding and importance of sustainability and its impact on food choices, trade-offs, drivers and barriers to sustainable food choices and differences across demographic groups.
... Similarly, Hansen et al. (2021) found that more vegetarian lunches were chosen when the buffet was vegetarian by default. Consumers' food choices have also been successfully steered into plant-based directions in restaurants by increasing the number or proportion of vegetarian meal options offered Parkin & Attwood, 2022), or through modifying dishes by decreasing portion sizes of meat combined with increasing vegetables portions (Reinders et al., 2017;Spencer et al., 2021). ...
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Restaurants are characterized by high levels of meat being consumed in this out-of-home setting, while plant-based meat alternatives remain a niche product, thus preserving a high environmental impact of food consumption. We tested whether subtly re-designing the restaurant menu, so that plant-based meat alternatives were perceived as the default to a greater extent, increased consumer selection of plant-based meat alternatives. Consumers' freedom of choice was preserved by leaving all choice options on the menu. An online experiment in The Netherlands showed that consumers choose plant-based meat alternatives more often relative to meat when the plant-based option is framed as the default. In a field experiment in a Dutch restaurant, we found that the amount of ordered plant-based meat alternative dishes increased relative to an equivalent meat dish when implementing a default nudge (bean alternative: from 8.6% to 80.0%; seaweed alternative: from 16.1% to 58.3%). Thus, re-designing the menu in a way that suggests that plant-based meat alternatives are the default, while preserving autonomous decision-making, is a promising route to promote out-of-home adoption of plant-based meat alternatives in restaurants.
... The small group of Uninterested consumers are less willing to change their diet, but they might benefit from interventions highlighting the health and financial benefits of plant-rich diets (Flynn & Schiff, 2015;Willett et al., 2019). Overall, consumers would likely benefit from interventions that increase capability (e.g., recipes tailored to taste preferences and time constraints), opportunity (e.g., plant-based menu defaults or offering more plant-based options; Campbell-Arvai et al., 2014;Hansen et al., 2021;Mertens et al., 2022;Parkin & Attwood, 2022), and motivation (e.g., use of appetizing language, social norm; The Behavioural Insights Team, 2020) to eat plantbased foods (i.e., the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation model of Behavior; Michie et al., 2011). ...
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Adoption of plant-based diets is one of the most impactful ways individuals can reduce carbon emissions, helping to mitigate climate change. People attach different degrees of importance to the attributes of their food, such as taste, environmental impact, and health considerations. Identifying key motivators and barriers to adopting plant-based diets, and how these differ among different groups, can inform campaigns to increase plant-based diets. Here, we identify three consumer groups using a nationally representative survey in the United States: Motivated, Health-conscious, and Uninterested. The groups significantly differ in their willingness to incorporate plant-based foods in their diet. Members of the Motivated group are strongly motivated by health, environmental, and ethical considerations, members of the Health-conscious are primarily motivated by health, and members of the Uninterested are not motivated to eat plant-based foods. We provide a four-question survey that can be used to identify these groups and empirically evaluate communication campaigns.
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Reducing consumption of animal products is a critically important challenge in efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. Despite this, meals containing animal products are often presented as the default versus more environmentally sustainable vegetarian or vegan options. We tested whether vegetarian and vegan labels on menu items negatively impact the likelihood of US consumers choosing these items by using a between-subjects experimental design, where participants chose a preference between two items. Menu items were presented with titles and descriptions typical at restaurants, and a random group saw "vegan" or "vegetarian" labels in the titles of one of the two items. Two field studies were conducted at a US academic institution, where people selected what to eat via event registration forms. The methodology was extended to an online study, where US consumers selected what to hypothetically eat in a series of choice questions. Overall, results showed the menu items were significantly less likely to be chosen when they were labeled, with much larger effects in the field studies, where choice was not hypothetical. In addition, the online study showed male participants had a significantly higher preference for options containing meat versus other participants. Results did not indicate the impact of labels differed by gender. Furthermore, this study did not find that vegetarians and vegans were more likely to choose items with meat when the labels were removed, indicating that removing labels did not negatively impact them. The results suggest removing vegetarian and vegan labels from menus could help guide US consumers towards reduced consumption of animal products.
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The German energy transition requires reducing absolute energy consumption in addition to switching to renewable energies. Sufficiency is a key approach to reduce absolute energy consumption, which is so far underrepresented. The study explores how energy cooperatives can promote sufficiency in households. With their community-oriented approach, they pursue the goal of decentralized, environmentally friendly energy production and create acceptance for the energy transition through the participation of citizens. The study shows which communicative strategies energy cooperatives already use to promote sufficiency and which others they could potentially use in the future. Literature reviews, media analyses, and interviews were used to examine how energy cooperatives can effectively design their communications and interventions to promote sufficiency. The analysis of 505 websites and expert interviews show that energy cooperatives still rarely mention sufficiency directly, but take up many aspects of it, such as energy saving, references to sharing concepts, or calls for civic engagement in climate protection. In addition, the study contains insights into how members of energy cooperatives can be convinced of sufficiency lifestyles and how sufficiency communication also enriches member recruitment and retention. Overall, the study makes clear that energy cooperatives are ideal multipliers for promoting sufficiency in households.
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Encouraging meat eaters to eat more vegetarian foods benefits public health and environment. This study examined whether changes in menu design, specifically in the labeling of a dish, increases vegetarian food choice. In an online survey experiment involving a representative sample of Danish meat eaters (n = 955) we investigated the frequency with which dishes are chosen when they have a neutral vegetarian label (with no explicit indication that the dish does not contain meat), an explicit label (as vegetarian, meat-free, vegan, or plant-based), or a label referring to meat. We also examined the role of individual characteristics of the diner (food neophobia, meat-eating identity, meat intake and ethical concern). We found that neutral labeling outperformed explicit labeling among all meat eaters (neutral 17%, meat 10%, explicit labels 5%–7%) and in two sub-groups, namely, non-reducers (who are not actively reducing their meat intake: explicit 3.4%, neutral 10.2%) and meat-reducers (explicit 14.4%, neutral 30.1%). We found no significant differences between the four explicit labels. We show that non-reducers with low meat-eating identity can be nudged to choose a neutrally labeled vegetarian dish, and that, among ethically concerned meat-reducers, the vegetarian dish is chosen more often when the dish is neutrally rather than explicitly labeled. Finally, we show that meat-avoiders (additional convenience sample, n = 148) were as likely to choose a neutrally labeled vegetarian dish as an explicitly labeled one. Our results suggest that neutral labeling sidesteps reactance and moral licensing effects in both meat-reducers and non-reducers, and that food outlets with meat-eating customers should carefully consider their use of explicit labeling and use neutral labeling for vegetarian dishes where possible.
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Adopting low-carbon diets is important to meet our climate goals. Prior experimental evidence suggests green nudges help people adopt such diets, more so when they are encouraged to think through them. In this paper, we re-evaluate this role of reflection in a “social norm" nudge to promote intentions for climate-friendly diets in the United Kingdom. Using 5,555 British respondents, we find the social norm nudge increases meal order intentions for low-carbon diets versus the control condition. Asking people to reveal their personal dietary norms, after exposing them to these social norms, does not produce any measurable change compared to the nudge. However, when people are subsequently encouraged to think and pledge to climate-friendly diets, the effectiveness of the social norm nudge increases by 90% or more.
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Background Reducing meat consumption could bring health and environmental benefits, but there is little research to date on effective interventions to achieve this. A non-randomised controlled intervention study was used to evaluate whether prominent positioning of meat-free products in the meat aisle was associated with a change in weekly mean sales of meat and meat-free products. Methods and findings Weekly sales data were obtained from 108 stores: 20 intervention stores that moved a selection of 26 meat-free products into a newly created meat-free bay within the meat aisle and 88 matched control stores. The primary outcome analysis used a hierarchical negative binomial model to compare changes in weekly sales (units) of meat products sold in intervention versus control stores during the main intervention period (Phase I: February 2019 to April 2019). Interrupted time series analysis was also used to evaluate the effects of the Phase I intervention. Moreover, 8 of the 20 stores enhanced the intervention from August 2019 onwards (Phase II intervention) by adding a second bay of meat-free products into the meat aisle, which was evaluated following the same analytical methods. During the Phase I intervention, sales of meat products (units/store/week) decreased in intervention (approximately −6%) and control stores (−5%) without significant differences (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.01 [95% CI 0.95–1.07]. Sales of meat-free products increased significantly more in the intervention (+31%) compared to the control stores (+6%; IRR 1.43 [95% CI 1.30–1.57]), mostly due to increased sales of meat-free burgers, mince, and sausages. Consistent results were observed in interrupted time series analyses where the effect of the Phase II intervention was significant in intervention versus control stores. Conclusions Prominent positioning of meat-free products into the meat aisle in a supermarket was not effective in reducing sales of meat products, but successfully increased sales of meat-free alternatives in the longer term. A preregistered protocol ( https://osf.io/qmz3a/ ) was completed and fully available before data analysis.
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Food choices are difficult to change. People’s individual motivations (such as taste, cost, and food preferences) can be at odds with the negative environmental outcomes of their food choices (such as deforestation, water pollution, and climate change). How then can people be encouraged to adopt more sustainable food choices? This rapid review uses a dual-processing framework of decision-making to structure an investigation of the effectiveness of interventions to encourage sustainable food choices (e.g., local and organic food consumption, reducing meat and dairy intake, reducing food waste) via voluntary behavior change. The review includes interventions that rely on fast, automatic decision-making processes (e.g., nudging) and interventions that rely on more deliberate decision-making (e.g., information provision). These interventions have varying degrees of success in terms of encouraging sustainable food choices. This mini-review outlines some of the ways in which our understanding of sustainable food choices could be enhanced. This includes a call for the inclusion of possible moderators and mediators (past behavior, attitudes, beliefs, values) as part of effect measurements, because these elucidate the mechanisms by which behavior change occurs. In light of the climate change challenge, studies that include long-term effect measurements are essential as these can provide insight on how to foster sustained and durable changes.
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Increasing the relative availability of plant-based (versus animal source) foods seems promising in shifting consumption, but it remains unknown how and under what circumstances this happens. We performed two availability manipulations including different foods. The impact on food choice, social norm perceptions about what others do (descriptive) or approve of (injunctive), and salience was assessed. Non-vegetarian participants were visually (Study 1, n = 184) or physically (Study 2, n = 276) exposed to (a) four plant-based and two animal source foods or (b) vice versa. Participants chose one food item, either hypothetically (Study 1) or actually (Study 2), and reported the perceived social norms and salience of plant-based and animal source foods. The results showed no direct effects on food choice, injunctive norms, or salience. An increased proportion of plant-based (versus animal source) foods was interpreted in Study 1 as plant-based foods being less often chosen by others, whereas in Study 2, these foods were interpreted as being more often chosen (marginally significant), while animal source foods were interpreted as being less often chosen. The results suggest that a higher availability of plant-based foods influences descriptive norms, but future research should examine aspects potentially contributing to the contradictory normative interpretations (e.g., norm salience).
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Overwhelming evidence shows that overconsumption of meat is bad for human and environmental health and that moving towards a more plant-based diet is more sustainable. For instance, replacing beef with beans in the US could free up 42% of US cropland and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 334 mmt, accomplishing 75% of the 2020 carbon reduction target. We summarise the evidence on how overconsumption of meat affects social, environmental and economic sustainability. We summarise the social, environmental and economic effectiveness of a range of dietary interventions that have been tested to date. Because meat eating is embedded within complex cultural, economic, and political systems, dietary shifts to reduce overconsumption are unlikely to happen quickly and a suite of sustained, context-specific interventions is likely to work better than brief, one-dimensional approaches. We conclude with key actions needed by global leaders in politics, industry and the health sector that could help aide this dietary transformation to benefit people and the planet.
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Background: This study investigates a simple, generic and easily scalable nudge to promote healthy and sustainable food choices at conferences by using a vegetarian lunch-default as a normative signal. Methods: At three conferences, participants registering electronically were randomized into two groups: Group 1 received a standard lunch registration presenting a non-vegetarian buffet as the default, but allowing the active choice of a vegetarian option; Group 2 received a registration presenting a vegetarian buffet as the default, allowing the active choice of a non-vegetarian option. The study also assessed gender differences for two of the conferences and the participants' acceptance of the nudge at one of the conferences. Results: In experiment A the vegetarian choice increased from 2% to 87% (N = 108, P < 0.001). In experiment B it increased from 6% to 86% (N = 112, P < 0.001). In experiment C it increased from 12.5% to 89% (N = 110, P < 0.001). A significant tendency for men, but not women, to opt out of the vegetarian default was found and a clear majority of participants reported positive attitudes toward the nudge. Conclusions: Changing the lunch-default to a vegetarian option is an effective, generic, easy to scale and well-accepted nudge to promote healthy and sustainable food choices at conferences.
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Individuals increasingly consume their meals away from home. This article describes a series of studies that examined the effects of meals with reduced amounts of meat and increased amounts of vegetables on food consumption, waste and guest satisfaction in four real-life restaurant settings in the Netherlands: an a-la-carte restaurant, six company canteens, a self-service restaurant, and a buffet restaurant, including nearly 1500 participants in total. The four studies in these four different out of home settings consistently showed that adapting portion sizes of meat and vegetables was effective to reduce meat consumption and increase vegetable consumption, while maintaining high guest satisfaction. Guest satisfaction even increased when vegetables were presented and prepared in a more attractive and tasty way. Thus, adapting portion sizes of meat and vegetables provides a viable strategy to stimulate healthy and environmentally sustainable consumption patterns in out of home settings.
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Global food systems are currently challenged by unsustainable and unhealthy consumption and production practices. Food labelling provides information on key characteristics of food items, thereby potentially driving more sustainable food choices or demands. This review explores how consumers value three different elements of sustainable diets: Comparing consumer response to nutrition information on food labels against environmental and/or social responsibility information. Six databases were systematically searched for studies examining consumer choice/preference/evaluation of nutrition against environmental and/or social responsibility attributes on food labels. Studies were quality assessed against domain-based criteria and reported using PRISMA guidelines. Thirty articles with 19,040 participants met inclusion criteria. Study quality was mixed, with samples biased towards highly-educated females. Environmental and social responsibility attributes were preferred to nutrition attributes in 17 studies (11 environmental and six social), compared to nine where nutrition attributes were valued more highly. Three studies found a combination of attributes were valued more highly than either attribute in isolation. One study found no significant preference. The most preferred attribute was organic labelling, with a health inference likely. Consumers generally have a positive view of environmental and social responsibility food labelling schemes. Combination labelling has potential, with a mix of sustainable diet attributes appearing well-received.
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Shifting people in higher income countries toward more plant-based diets would protect the natural environment and improve population health. Research in other domains suggests altering the physical environments in which people make decisions (“nudging”) holds promise for achieving socially desirable behavior change. Here, we examine the impact of attempting to nudge meal selection by increasing the proportion of vegetarian meals offered in a year-long large-scale series of observational and experimental field studies. Anonymized individual-level data from 94,644 meals purchased in 2017 were collected from 3 cafeterias at an English university. Doubling the proportion of vegetarian meals available from 25 to 50% (e.g., from 1 in 4 to 2 in 4 options) increased vegetarian meal sales (and decreased meat meal sales) by 14.9 and 14.5 percentage points in the observational study (2 cafeterias) and by 7.8 percentage points in the experimental study (1 cafeteria), equivalent to proportional increases in vegetarian meal sales of 61.8%, 78.8%, and 40.8%, respectively. Linking sales data to participants’ previous meal purchases revealed that the largest effects were found in the quartile of diners with the lowest prior levels of vegetarian meal selection. Moreover, serving more vegetarian options had little impact on overall sales and did not lead to detectable rebound effects: Vegetarian sales were not lower at other mealtimes. These results provide robust evidence to support the potential for simple changes to catering practices to make an important contribution to achieving more sustainable diets at the population level.
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Food production is one of the major contributors to environmental damage. Adaptations in our food choices are needed to preserve resources for the needs of future generations. More sustainable consumption patterns have been encouraged by economic incentives, laws, education and communication campaigns. Nonetheless, consumers still find difficulties in trying to change their current food habits. This review takes a behavioural approach in encouraging sustainable food choices among consumers. From a nudging perspective, many behavioural changes can be encouraged in a non-obtrusive way by adapting the complex food environment in which consumers are operating. These interventions do not restrict consumers' choices but rather adapt the choice architecture wherein food decisions are made. Drawing on the literature from diverse theoretical perspectives, we provide an overview of the application of nudging for more sustainable food choices and highlight where more research is needed. More specifically, we discuss research that used nudging to engender cognitive impact (i.e. the use of labels or visibility enhancements), affective responses (i.e. sensorial and social influence cues) and behavioural effects (i.e. adjustments in convenience and product size). We conclude that this review only shows the tip of the iceberg of the research on nudging and sustainable consumption that is likely forthcoming in the next few years, following the successes of nudging applications in other domains. Nonetheless, each individual nudging intervention requires careful examination. Personal predispositions towards the environment should be considered when designing interventions, demonstrating the complementarity of nudging with education on sustainable consumption.
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Background Mass media campaigns can be used to communicate public health messages at the population level. Although previous research has shown that they can influence health behaviours in some contexts, there have been few attempts to synthesise evidence across multiple health behaviours. Objectives To (1) review evidence on the effective use of mass media in six health topic areas (alcohol, diet, illicit drugs, physical activity, sexual and reproductive health and tobacco), (2) examine whether or not effectiveness varies with different target populations, (3) identify characteristics of mass media campaigns associated with effectiveness and (4) identify key research gaps. Design The study comprised (1) a systematic review of reviews, (2) a review of primary studies examining alcohol mass media campaigns, (3) a review of cost-effectiveness evidence and (4) a review of recent primary studies of mass media campaigns conducted in the UK. A logic model was developed to inform the reviews. Public engagement activities were conducted with policy, practitioner and academic stakeholders and with young people. Results The amount and strength of evidence varies across the six topics, and there was little evidence regarding diet campaigns. There was moderate evidence that mass media campaigns can reduce sedentary behaviour and influence sexual health-related behaviours and treatment-seeking behaviours (e.g. use of smoking quitlines and sexual health services). The impact on tobacco use and physical activity was mixed, there was limited evidence of impact on alcohol use and there was no impact on illicit drug behaviours. Mass media campaigns were found to increase knowledge and awareness across several topics, and to influence intentions regarding physical activity and smoking. Tobacco and illicit drug campaigns appeared to be more effective for young people and children but there was no or inconsistent evidence regarding effectiveness by sex, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. There was moderate evidence that tobacco mass media campaigns are cost-effective, but there was weak or limited evidence in other topic areas. Although there was limited evidence on characteristics associated with effectiveness, longer or greater intensity campaigns were found to be more effective, and messages were important, with positive and negative messages and social norms messages affecting smoking behaviour. The evidence suggested that targeting messages to target audiences can be effective. There was little evidence regarding the role that theory or media channels may play in campaign effectiveness, and also limited evidence on new media. Limitations Statistical synthesis was not possible owing to considerable heterogeneity across reviews and studies. The focus on review-level evidence limited our ability to examine intervention characteristics in detail. Conclusions Overall, the evidence is mixed but suggests that (1) campaigns can reduce sedentary behaviour, improve sexual health and contribute to smoking cessation, (2) tobacco control campaigns can be cost-effective, (3) longer and more intensive campaigns are likely to be more effective and (4) message design and targeting campaigns to particular population groups can be effective. Future work Future work could fill evidence gaps regarding diet mass media campaigns and new-media campaigns, examine cost-effectiveness in areas other than tobacco and explore the specific contribution of mass media campaigns to multicomponent interventions and how local, regional and national campaigns can work together. Study registration This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42015029205 and PROSPERO CRD42017054999. Funding The National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme.
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Consumers typically make choices based on a menu that lists a variety of food items. Prior research has shown that the position of food items within a menu (center vs. edge) can impact choices (e.g., edge preference and edge aversion). This research extends the literature by demonstrating that the display format of a menu (horizontal vs. vertical displays) can determine the relative impact of these influences. Two experiments find that the middle options are preferred when food options are displayed horizontally (vs. vertically), whereas the edge items are preferred under a vertical display (vs. a horizontal display). These differences extend to different types of foods (food vs. beverage), and to even and odd numbers of options (e.g., four vs. five). These findings increase the understanding of how food item displays can influence consumer choices, and provide important implications for practitioners and policymakers, including how to effectively position food items.
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The global impacts of food production Food is produced and processed by millions of farmers and intermediaries globally, with substantial associated environmental costs. Given the heterogeneity of producers, what is the best way to reduce food's environmental impacts? Poore and Nemecek consolidated data on the multiple environmental impacts of ∼38,000 farms producing 40 different agricultural goods around the world in a meta-analysis comparing various types of food production systems. The environmental cost of producing the same goods can be highly variable. However, this heterogeneity creates opportunities to target the small numbers of producers that have the most impact. Science , this issue p. 987
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Providing calorie counts on restaurants’ menus/menu boards is one of the most prominent policy interventions that has been implemented to combat the obesity epidemic in America. However, previous research across multiple disciplines has found little effect of providing calorie counts on calories ordered, leading some to call calorie provision a failed policy. The authors propose that this failure is partly due to not considering how people process information when making food choices: Americans read from left‐to‐right, processing calorie information only after processing the food item's name. Thus, the authors test a simple way to improve the effectiveness of calorie counts: display calorie counts to the left (vs. right) of food items. A field study and a lab study with American participants found that calorie counts to the left (vs. right) decreased calories ordered by 16.31%. A final lab study demonstrated that this effect is reversed among Hebrew‐speakers, who read from right‐to‐left, providing further evidence that the order in which calorie information is processed matters. Accordingly, calling calorie labeling a policy failure may be premature. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Objective Excess meat consumption, particularly of red and processed meats, is associated with nutritional and environmental health harms. While only a small portion of the population is vegetarian, surveys suggest many Americans may be reducing their meat consumption. To inform education campaigns, more information is needed about attitudes, perceptions, behaviours and foods eaten in meatless meals. Design A web-based survey administered in April 2015 assessed meat reduction behaviours, attitudes, what respondents ate in meatless meals and sociodemographic characteristics. Setting Nationally representative, web-based survey in the USA. Subjects US adults ( n 1112) selected from GfK Knowledgeworks’ 50 000-member online panel. Survey weights were used to assure representativeness. Results Two-thirds reported reducing meat consumption in at least one category over three years, with reductions of red and processed meat most frequent. The most common reasons for reduction were cost and health; environment and animal welfare lagged. Non-meat reducers commonly agreed with statements suggesting that meat was healthy and ‘belonged’ in the diet. Vegetables were most often consumed ‘always’ in meatless meals, but cheese/dairy was also common. Reported meat reduction was most common among those aged 45–59 years and among those with lower incomes. Conclusions The public and environmental health benefits of reducing meat consumption create a need for campaigns to raise awareness and contribute to motivation for change. These findings provide rich information to guide intervention development, both for the USA and other high-income countries that consume meat in high quantities.
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Dietary choices in out-of-home eating are key for individual as well as for public health. These dietary choices are caused by a wide array of determinants, one of which is automatic decision-making. Nudging is attracting considerable interest due to its understanding and application of heuristic biases among consumers. The aim of this study is to test and compare three nudges in promoting vegetable consumption among test persons in a food lab-based experiment.The initial sample consisted of 88 participants recruited in Copenhagen, Denmark. Each study participant was randomly assigned to one of the three experiments: priming, default and perceived variety. The priming arm of the experiment consisted of creating a leafy environment with green plants and an odour of herbs. In the default arm of the experiment, the salad was pre-portioned into a bowl containing 200g of vegetables. The third experiment divided the pre-mixed salad into each of its components, to increase the visual variety of vegetables, yet not providing an actual increase in items. Each individual was partaking twice thus serving as her/his own control, randomly assigned to start with control or experimental setting.The default experiment successfully increased the energy intake from vegetables among the study participants (124 kcal vs. 90 kcal in control, p
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What you need to know (in graphics) on how diets are converging globally, how that impacts agricultural resource use and environmental impacts, what would be the impacts of shifting diets, and importantly how to shift diets.
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Small, everyday changes in people’s behavior can have significant positive environmental impacts. To this end, the research reported here focused on the role of an asymmetric intervention (a “nudge”) in motivating choices with positive environmental outcomes. The context of this research was motivating proenvironmental food choice in campus dining halls. An experiment was conducted in which a default menu, presenting only appealing or unappealing meat-free meal options, was compared with more conventional menu configurations. The use of a default menu increased the probability that study participants would choose a meat-free meal option, and this probability increased when appealing default meal options were provided. Neither the provision of information on the menus nor the proenvironmental value orientation and worldview of participants contributed to the logistic model. These results suggest that default-based interventions can be important tools in motivating proenvironmental behavior and can serve to complement information and education efforts over the long term.
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``Very small but cumulated decreases in food intake may be sufficient to have significant effects, even erasing obesity over a period of years'' (Rozin et al., 2011). In two studies, one a lab study and the other a real-world study, we examine the effect of manipulating the position of different foods on a restaurant menu. Items placed at the beginning or the end of the list of their category options were up to twice as popular as when they were placed in the center of the list. Given this effect, placing healthier menu items at the top or bottom of item lists and less healthy ones in their center (e.g., sugared drinks vs. calorie-free drinks) should result in some increase in favor of healthier food choices.
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Controlling obesity has become one of the highest priorities for public health practitioners in developed countries. In the absence of safe, effective and widely accessible high-risk approaches (e.g. drugs and surgery) attention has focussed on community-based approaches and social marketing campaigns as the most appropriate form of intervention. However there is limited evidence in support of substantial effectiveness of such interventions. To date there is little evidence that community-based interventions and social marketing campaigns specifically targeting obesity provide substantial or lasting benefit. Concerns have been raised about potential negative effects created by a focus of these interventions on body shape and size, and of the associated media targeting of obesity. A more appropriate strategy would be to enact high-level policy and legislative changes to alter the obesogenic environments in which we live by providing incentives for healthy eating and increased levels of physical activity. Research is also needed to improve treatments available for individuals already obese.
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Thought for food To have any hope of meeting the central goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit global warming to 2°C or less, our carbon emissions must be reduced considerably, including those coming from agriculture. Clark et al. show that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. Thus, major changes in how food is produced are needed if we want to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Science , this issue p. 705
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In the past decade, the prevalence of obesity and related comorbidities has continued to increase across the globe, prompting many countries to adopt policies to improve diet quality. Here, we discuss key nutrition policies that have been implemented in the past few years and consider future priorities for global obesity prevention.
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Research suggests that consuming vegetarian foods is one of the key lifestyle changes that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, transforming dietary habits to counter climate change has received little attention to date compared to other green behaviors. In three large pre-registered online studies conducted on 11,066 US participants, the present research tested whether reframing the name of the vegetarian food category impacts the choice of dishes from this category in the context of restaurant menus. We showed that a pro-environmental frame (i.e. “Environmentally Friendly Main Courses for a Happy Planet”), a social frame (i.e. “Refreshing Main Courses for Relaxing Conversations”), and a neutral frame (i.e. vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes mixed in the same section “Main Courses”) all increased the likelihood of vegetarian choice compared to a vegetarian frame (i.e. “Vegetarian Main Courses”). Given that either of the three framing conditions (vs. the vegetarian frame) increased vegetarian food choice but no consistent differences emerged among them, the main message of the present research is that the absence of vegetarian framing, regardless of the alternative intervention, may make vegetarian choices more likely. In addition to testing the main effects of menus on vegetarian choice, we comprehensively examined the mechanism behind these effects by probing multiple mediators. Overall, our research offers new insights into how techniques stemming from psychology can enhance vegetarian food choice.
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Menu-based 'nudges' hold promise as effective ways to encourage a shift away from ruminant meat and towards more environmentally friendly plant-based options when dining out. One example of a menu-based nudge is including an inferior 'decoy' option to existing items on menus. Decoys have been shown to influence decision-making in other domains (e.g. Lichters, Bengart, Sarstedt, & Vogt, 2017), but have yet to be used to promote sustainable food choices. Two online randomized controlled trials tested whether the addition of higher priced 'decoy' vegetarian options to menus influenced the number of diners choosing a 'target' vegetarian option. Adjusted Generalized Estimating Equations on data from four menu conditions showed no main effect of intervention group in study 1 (decoy absent vs. decoy present; odds ratio (OR) 1.08 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.45 to 2.57). Replicating the trial in study 2 across seven menu conditions and testing a more expensive decoy also showed no main effect of the intervention (decoy absent vs. decoy present; OR 0.68 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.12). Further analyses revealed that our price-based decoy strategy (a £30% price increase) did not significantly influence the numbers who chose the inferior decoy dish, potentially due to the fact that dish choices were purely hypothetical. Further research is now needed to clarify which attributes of a dish (e.g. taste, portion size, signature ingredients etc.) are optimal candidates for use as decoys and testing these in real world choice contexts.
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The amount of meat consumed is having a negative impact on both health and the environment. This study investigated the probability of eating meat and the amount eaten at a meal within different social, temporal and situational contexts. Dietary intake data from 4-day diet diaries of adults (19 years and above) taken from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2008/9-2013/14) were used for the analysis. Individual eating occasions were identified and the effects of where the food was eaten, with whom, day of the week, age and gender on the probability of eating meat and amount of meat eaten were modelled using general linear mixed models. Each factor showed distinctive effects on the probability of eating meat and the amount consumed. The amount of meat eaten was greater when eating with family members compared to when alone or with other companions. Both the probability and amount of meat eaten in a single eating occasion were higher on Sundays compared to the rest of the week. Eating out (e.g. restaurants/cafes) increased the probability of consuming meat and the amount compared to other situations (e.g. home, work). When considering the factors influencing meat consumption, attention must be paid to the effects of social, temporal, and situational factors as they all work to shape consumption behaviour. This information should be used in the design of interventions and development of policies for the most effective way to reduce meat consumption.
Article
Reducing meat consumption is considered to have great potential to mitigate food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I conducted a field experiment with two restaurants to test if nudging can increase the consumption of vegetarian food. At the treated restaurant, the salience of the vegetarian option was increased by changing the menu order and enhancing the visibility of the vegetarian dish. The other restaurant served as a control. Daily sales data on the three main dishes sold were collected from September 2015 until June 2016. Results show that the nudge increased the share of vegetarian lunches sold by on average 6 percentage points, and that the treatment effect increased over time. The change in behavior is partly persistent, as the share of vegetarian lunches sold remained 4 percentage points higher after the intervention ended than before the experiment. The intervention reduced GHG emissions from food sales by around 5 percent.
Article
Previous research has shown that restaurant menu design can influence food choices. However, it remains unknown whether such contextual effects on food selection are dependent on people's past behavior. In the present study, we focused on vegetarian food choices, given their important implications for the environment, and investigated whether the influence of different restaurant menus on the likelihood of selecting a vegetarian dish is moderated by the number of days on which people reported eating only vegetarian food during the previous week. In an online scenario, participants were randomly assigned to four different restaurant menu conditions-control (all dishes presented in the same manner), recommendation (vegetarian dish presented as chef's recommendation), descriptive (more appealing description of vegetarian dish), and vegetarian (vegetarian dishes placed in a separate section)-and ordered a dish for dinner. The results showed that the recommendation and descriptive menus increased the likelihood of vegetarian dish choices for infrequent eaters of vegetarian foods, whereas these effects tended to reverse for those who ate vegetarian meals more often. The vegetarian menu had no impact on the infrequent vegetarian eaters' choice but backfired for the frequent vegetarian eaters and made them less likely to order a vegetarian dish. These findings indicate that people's past behavior is an important determinant of the impact of nudging on food choices, and that achieving sustainable eating may require more personalized interventions.
Article
Using an incentive-compatible framed field experiment, we investigate whether consumers' food consumption is more eco-friendly when the information about a product's environmental impact is more easily accessible. Through an online survey, we identify a food label that is perceived to be the most easily accessible for assessing a product's eco-friendliness among six alternatives. These alternatives vary on multiple dimensions, including whether a standardized score of the overall environmental impact is added. This new food label is subsequently tested in an experimental food market embedded in a Belgian supermarket. We find that the presence of the new label that was preselected in the online survey leads to more eco-friendly food consumption relative to either the label currently used in the supermarket, or the label that contains the raw information of the environmental impact. In our experimental food market, the use of an easy-to-interpret but comprehensive environmental information label increases the overall eco-friendliness of our subjects' food consumption by about 5.3% relative to the default label used in current markets.
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In a world of rising obesity, restaurants have become a regulatory target. One profitable but overlooked solution may be for restaurants to focus on menu engineering strategies that could increase sales of relatively healthier, high margin appetizers and entrées and help diners become slim by design. Recent lab and field research in consumer psychology and behavioral economics offer promising solutions that responsible restaurants can use to profitably guide their customers to healthier decisions by using the three-step menu engineering process of (1) shifting attention, (2) enhancing taste expectations, and (3) increasing perception of value. A review of these studies provides key implications that can both increase the healthfulness of what customers order along with the profits of the restaurant.
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A sample of 929 subjects (over 14 years of age) completed a questionnaire assessing attitudes and intentions towards the consumption of red, white and preserved meat. Behaviour was measured by observation of actual consumption of meat during a week. The objective of the present study was twofold: to understand the role of attitudes, habit and intention in predicting the actual consumption of meat; to study the mediating role of intention in the impact of attitude and habit on consumption of meat. The consumption showed higher correlations with habit than with intention for red and white meat. Habit has been shown to be more correlated to intention of consuming than the attitude component was for each type of meat. A comparison between competing theoretical models indicated that the model which included indirect influences of habit and attitudes on behaviour, by means intention, was the best for its relative adequacy in accounting for the observed data. The subjective measure of habit outweighed attitude in the impact on intention of consuming meat. Intention was found to have a good and significant effect on actual consumption of meat.
Article
The objective of this research was to investigate whether merchandizing strategies could encourage college students to make healthy foodservice menu selections. Two hundred sixty-six Montclair State University, New Jersey, students participated during the spring 2011 semester. Three menus were adapted from previous research: a generic control menu; a treatment menu, which utilizes menu merchandizing strategies to promote the healthier items; and a duplicate of the treatment menu with nutrition labels added. A demographic questionnaire was also distributed. The merchandising treatments were not significant for the participants’ top choice, though placing boxes around healthy items had a significant effect (p = 0.025). This positive effect was mitigated when nutrient labels were added. Overall, nutrient labeling was not an effective strategy for promoting healthy food choices in this study. Menus designed to promote good nutrition may have the potential to encourage healthier decisions through hidden persuaders, without restricting students’ freedom of dietary choice.
Article
This paper discusses the use of forced restriction of food choice as an instrument of food policy by using the mandatory Helsinki School District weekly vegetarian day as a natural experiment. Overall, the results show that the initiative produced a mixture of intended and unintended effects. On vegetarian days, there were clear signs of non-compliance in the short term, manifested as a decrease in the participation in school lunches and in the amount of food taken to the plate and as an increase in plate waste. In the medium term, the only sign of non-compliance was a decrease in the amount of food taken to the plate. The difference between the short- and medium-term effects can be interpreted as a weakening of non-compliance, as a change in the way it manifested itself, or a combination of both. The effects of the vegetarian day differed between school levels. In the short term, the clearest indications of non-compliance were found in lower-secondary schools. However, these schools also registered positive spillover effects in the medium term. The best way to reduce the unintended effects of a policy involving forced choice restriction depends on the causes of such effects. In the case of psychological reactance, default options may be preferable to forced choice restriction. For hedonic dislike, menu development should be prioritized, and moral suasion and information campaigns may help where non-compliance stems from a disagreement with the objectives and effectiveness of the intervention. Thus, forced choice restriction should be accompanied by detailed data collection to understand the possible causes of intended and unintended effects and to tailor the intervention to the target group.
The language of sustainable diets: A field study exploring the impact of renaming vegetarian dishes on U.K. Café menus
  • L Bacon
  • J Wise
  • S Attwood
  • D Vennard
Bacon, L., Wise, J., Attwood, S., & Vennard, D. (2018). The language of sustainable diets: A field study exploring the impact of renaming vegetarian dishes on U.K. Café menus, (december), 1-20. Retrieved from www.wri.org/publication/renaming-vegetarian-di shes.
Encouraging sustainable food consumption by using more-appetizing language
  • D Vennard
  • T Park
  • S Attwood
Vennard, D., Park, T., & Attwood, S. (2018). Encouraging sustainable food consumption by using more-appetizing language (December). Retrieved from www.wri.org/publication /encouraging.
Food in the anthropocene: The EAT-lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems
  • W Willett
  • J Rockström
  • B Loken
  • M Springmann
  • T Lang
  • S Vermeulen
Willett, W., Rockström, J., Loken, B., Springmann, M., Lang, T., Vermeulen, S., et al. (2019). Food in the anthropocene: The EAT-lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet (London, England), 393(10170), 447-492. https:// doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4