Meat eaters choose vegetarian dishes when plant-based options make up 75% of menus
15 Dec 2021 --- Researchers from the University of Westminster discovered menus that are 75% vegetarian is the tipping point that prompts people who eat meat to opt for plant-based meals.
People with a meat-based diet will not shift their dietary choices at 50% or 25% vegetarian menus, only when the menu is three-quarter plant-based. Therefore, a large proportion of options are needed to change fixed meat consumption habits, the researchers find.
“The findings provide practical instruction on what percentage of their food offerings should be vegetarian if they are to succeed in encouraging sustainable eating behaviors,” says Dr. Beth Parkin, lead author of the study.
“If the foodservice industry decreases their carbon footprint, they need to act by providing far more plant-based items than currently on offer.”
Nudging less polluting diets along
The research from the World Resources Institute involving researchers from the University of Westminster suggests the food sector can significantly promote sustainable food choices.
This can be achieved by changing how the choice is presented to the consumer without consciously persuading individuals of the benefits of pro-environmental diets.
“This intervention shows the potential that the foodservice sector has in creating large-scale shifts to encourage meat eaters to change their preferences,” says Parkin.Researchers have encouraged the foodservice industry to offer more plant-based options.TPlant
During the World Resources Institute study, the researchers assessed how increasing the availability of vegetarian food concerning meat impacts people who usually eat meat.
These types of interventions are known as ‘nudges’. They explore how a decision can be designed to influence the desired behavior.
New European consumer research from Innova Market Insights highlights a widespread desire for more plant-based alternatives.
Significance of vegetarian options
The meat and dairy industries are large polluters accounting for approximately 25% of global emissions, the study reports. Incremental changes to global diets can significantly impact carbon and domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when applied at a large scale.
The randomized study showed participants menus containing different meat and vegetarian dishes to determine exactly how much meat availability is needed to promote sustainable choices.
It is thought that availability may have increased vegetarian food choice by implicitly suggesting behavioral norms or providing consumers with a wider range of desirable options.
Innova Market Insights has charted the rise of plant-based eating for several years. This year, the market researcher’s “Plant-Forward” trend signaled the progressive nature of the movement as it pushes into the mainstream and expands into new categories and regions.”
Edited by Inga de Jong
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