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Promoting Plant-based Menu Items Using Environmental Messages

Promoting Plant-based Menu Items Using Environmental Messages https://ift.tt/DWUfkpj

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

Many experts agree that it is critically important to encourage consumers to markedly reduce or eliminate animal products in their diets and to replace them with plant foods to reduce the effects of food choices on the environment. Restaurants offer opportunities to introduce consumers to plant-based foods. Messages on menus can provide the information that may inspire consumers to try plant-based menu items and to change their eating habits.

The non-profit organization, World Resources Institute, tested different messages that could appear on restaurant menus to see which ones would be most likely to nudge diners to choose vegetarian entrées when eating out. Two of the message were especially effective and doubled the percentage of orders for vegetarian entrées.

The first of these messages talked about how small changes can have a big impact and said, “Each of us can make a positive difference for the planet. Swapping just one meat dish for a plant-based one saves greenhouse gas emissions that are equivalent to the energy used to charge your phone for two years. Your small change can make a big difference.”

The second message was about joining a movement and said, “90% of Americans are making the change to eat less meat. Join the growing movement and choose plant-based dishes that will have less impact on the climate and are kinder to the planet.”

This study provides ideas that could be suggested to restaurants. Vegan restaurants could use messages like these in their advertising. Non-vegan restaurants who want to promote vegan menu items could use them to encourage diners to choose plant-based entrées. Perhaps these, or similar messages could be a part of our conversations with friends and family members who express interest in moving to more plant-based diets.


Blondin S, Attwood S, Vennard D, Mayneris V. Environmental messages promote plant-based food choices: An online restaurant menu study. Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 2022.

To read more about a vegan diet and the environment see:

Save Our Water the Vegetarian Way

Burrito on My Plate: The Water Footprint of a Vegan versus a Meat Burrito

VRG Materials on the Environment

To see results of our most recent poll about how many adults in the U.S. sometimes or always choose vegan or vegetarian meals when eating out see

How Many Adults in the U.S. are Vegan? How Many Adults Eat Vegetarian When Eating Out?

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