Increasing the number of veggie and vegan options on a menu will drastically reduce meat consumption, new research has found.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge assessed 94,000 meal choices from cafeterias on campus, and found that rearranging a menu has a huge impact on consumer choices.
They found that if vegetarian options made up 50 percent of the menu rather than 25 percent, the amount of meat consumed was lowered by up to 80 percent.
The study aimed to explore how menus could drive down meat consumption and improve sustainability.
“Education is important but generally ineffective at changing diets. Meat taxes are unpopular,” Paper author Theresa Marteau told the Daily Mail.
“Altering the range of available options is more acceptable, and offers a powerful way to influence the health and sustainability of our diets.”
“One of the exciting things about this study is the scale of information on individual diners’ choices,” co-author Andrew Balmford added.
“It allowed us to test for rebound effects, when customers compensate for less meat at lunch by eating more in the evening. We found little evidence of this.
“We discovered that changing the relative availability of vegetarian options had the strongest effect on those who usually eat more meat.”
Cambridge University has been at the forefront of educational establishments attempting to reduce their environmental impact in recent years.
The uni has seen a drastic reduction in its carbon footprint since it banned beef three years ago.
The University’s Catering Service replaced meat with plant-based products for its 14 college outlets and 1,500 annual events from October 2016.
This switch has led to a 33 percent reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased and a 28 percent reduction in land use per kilogram of food purchased, according to the report conducted by the University’s in-house catering service.
The move was initiated as part of the Our Sustainable Food Journey policy, in which the University not only stopped serving beef and lamb but also removed ‘unsustainable’ fish and stopped selling single-use plastic bottles.
What else can universities do to reduce their carbon footprint? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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