Veg on the menu? Differences in menu design interventions to increase vegetarian food choice between meat-reducers and non-reducers

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Reduced meat intake by Western consumers would benefit public health and the environment. However, meat consumption is notoriously difficult to change, among other things because it is often the outcome of automatic and habitual behavior. Interventions that make use of automatic decision-making processes are therefore promising, but these too vary in their success. The effectiveness of interventions may be improved if different types of meat-eaters are separated. Thus, the aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of two kinds of intervention (namely, changing to a vegetarian default on a menu and changing the attractiveness of a food label) on vegetarian food choice for two distinct groups: meat-eaters who are not reducing their meat intake (non-reducers) and meat-reducers. We also explored whether the effect of these interventions could be strengthened by activating different roles (i.e. a consumer role versus a citizen role). The online study included two European countries, Denmark (n = 740) and the Netherlands (n = 749), and involved two experiments. It was found that a vegetarian default significantly increased vegetarian food choice among the non-reducers but did not significantly do so among meat-reducers. Attractive labeling marginally increased vegetarian food choice for non-reducers but had no impact on meat-reducers. The activation of roles did not influence food choice. We conclude that meat-reducing interventions, especially where the menu default is concerned, could benefit from increased focus on a more specific target audience (i.e. non-reducers). More generally, we recommend that future meat-reducing interventions should consider different groups of meat-eaters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104675
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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