Diners are more likely to eat vegetarian if menu is 75% meatless, study finds

By Alexandra Mae Jones

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TORONTO (CTV Network) – Meat eaters are more likely to choose a vegetarian option over a meal containing meat when dining out if the majority of menu choices are vegetarian, but not if the menu is half -Half, according to a new study.

It may seem logical that the more vegetarian options there are, the more likely they are to be chosen, but the researchers wanted to test this hypothesis in reality.

Conducted via an online survey, researchers from the UK presented participants with three different hypothetical menus, one of which consisted of 75 percent vegetarian options, one at 50 percent and one with only 25 percent of vegetarian dishes.

They found that meat eaters were three times more likely to choose a vegetarian meal when the menu was 75 percent vegetarian versus 50 percent.

The findings were published online in the February 2022 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Beth Parkin, a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster and one of the study’s authors, said in an article in The Conversation that switching to adding vegetarian meals more often is a way for people to change their behavior to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Food in September, the entire food production system is responsible for 35% of all global emissions, and the production of food of animal origin produces twice as many emissions as the production of plant-based foods.

The new study, which looked at menu choices, said it supported the idea that people can be enticed to eat more vegetarian meals by simply changing the menu, without the need for major education campaigns for them. to convince.

A change in menus and options in restaurants could change attitudes inexpensively and effortlessly, Parkin suggested, noting that vegetarian food is as normal as meals with meat, while providing more variety.

The same researchers also conducted a trial with participants to see if the placement of symbols on a menu that designated a meal as vegetarian – for example, a “V” next to a dish’s title – had an impact on choices. of a client. do. They found that whether the vegetarian symbol was placed to the left or right of the name of the dish had no impact on whether the meal was chosen more often or not.

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