Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Meat on the menu? How the menu structure can stimulate vegetarian choices in restaurants

Abstract Excessive meat consumption has a negative impact on people's health, animal welfare, and the environment in general. Remarkably, however, despite the growing number of flexitarians, only a small number of people choose a vegetarian dish at a restaurant. Therefore, in the current study, we tested how vegetarian dishes need to be presented in order to stimulate the choice for these dishes. In an online study, participants were presented with one of four different menus: Either an all vegetarian menu, an all vegetarian menu with the possibility to add meat to each dish, a menu with increased offer on vegetarian dishes with explicit indication, and a menu with increased offer on vegetarian dishes without explicit indication. Subsequently, participants indicated how likely it was that they would eat in this restaurant and which dish they would choose (i.e., vegetarian or not). Additionally, they completed a reactance questionnaire. Results show that when people get the option to add meat to the vegetarian dishes on a menu this increases the choice for a vegetarian dish. No effect of menus on reactance and willingness to eat at a restaurant was found. These findings suggest that presenting meat as an alternative or additive option can help to change behavior toward a flexitarian lifestyle.

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