The language of sustainable diets: A field study exploring the impact of renaming vegetarian dishes on UK cafe menus

Encouraging consumers to purchase plant-based dishes is one way food service outlets can work toward reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This field experiment, conducted in a UK-based chain of cafés, aimed to identify the most effective language to describe plant-based menu items to encourage consumers to select these options. Compared to original dish names that used language highlighting the lack of meat in a dish (eg,“Meat-free” or “Vegetarian”), new names that emphasized taste or origin (eg,“Cumberland-spiced”) or used more appealing words for plant-based options (eg,“Field-grown” or “Garden”) significantly increased sales of the target vegetarian dishes. General positive language (eg,“Better” or “Feel Good”) had no significant effect on the proportion of target vegetarian dishes that were sold. The results from this field experiment provide evidence that it is possible to encourage consumers to select plant-based dishes in a food service setting by simply changing how dishes are described on menus. Since this is an easy and inexpensive way to increase the environmental sustainability of food, we encourage food service managers to experiment with more appealing names for the plant-based dishes on their menus.

L Bacon, J Wise, S Attwood, D Vennard – Technical Note. Washington, DC: World Resources …, 2018
Publication date
Technical Note. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. from: https://wriorg. s3. amazonaws. com/s3fspublic/language-sustainable-diets. pdf
Total citations
Cited by 19

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