FRIDAY, December 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Meat eaters are much more likely to choose plant-based foods in restaurants if menus are at least 75% vegetarian, according to a new study.
In addition to the health benefits, British researchers said getting more people to eat plant-based foods could help fight climate change.
“The results provide practical instructions on what percentage of their food offerings should be vegetarian if they are to be successful in encouraging sustainable eating behaviors“said lead author Beth Parkin, senior lecturer at the University of Westminster.
“If the restaurant industry is to reduce its carbon footprint, it must act by providing many more plant-based items than is currently offered,” she said in an academic press release.
To assess how the availability of vegetarian food affects the choices of people who typically eat meat, Parkin and his team randomly gave 776 participants menus with different ratios of vegetarian and meat dishes.
People who usually eat meat have switched to vegetarian foods only when the menus were 75% vegetarian, but not when 50 or 25% of the menu items were vegetarian.
This suggests that meat eaters may change their preferences when they have enough vegetarian options, but that it takes a large number of vegetarian choices to prompt that change, according to the findings of the February issue of the. Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Increasing vegetarian choices on a menu may make meat eaters more likely to choose a plant-based item by offering them a wider range of desirable dishes or by suggesting that this is normal behavior, Parkin and colleagues said. colleagues.
They noted that the meat and dairy industries account for around 25% of the carbon dioxide emission associated with climate change.
On a large scale, incremental changes to plant-based foods could have a significant impact on carbon emissions, according to the authors.
They said the food industry can play a major role in promoting sustainable food by changing the way choices are presented without the need to consciously persuade people of the benefits of environmentally friendly eating.
“[The study] shows the potential of the restaurant industry to create large-scale changes to encourage meat eaters to change their preferences, ”Parkin said.
To learn how to adopt a healthy vegetarian diet, see the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
SOURCES: University of Westminster, press release, December 14, 2021; Journal of Environmental Psychology, November 7, 2021, online