Less meat consumption thanks to climate warning on menu
By: Romy de Weert
Labels on menus that reflect the negative climate impact of the food make us more likely to opt for a more sustainable option. For example, a large proportion of people avoid red meat. That's according to new research from Johns Hopkins University.
In order to stimulate sustainable eating habits, stamps for dishes on the menu can offer a solution. Researchers at the American Johns Hopkins University investigated the effects of climate negative and positive labels on the food choices people make.
Red and green labels
Scientists asked about five thousand Americans to choose a dish from a menu. One card indicated that dishes with red meat have a negative impact on the climate. The dish was given a red label that read, "This item has high greenhouse gas emissions and a high contribution to climate change."
The other menu contains green labels with a positive text for more sustainable products, such as chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes: “This item is ecologically sustainable. It has low greenhouse gas emissions and a low contribution to climate change.”
Although some people argue about the sustainability of chicken and fish dishes, these dishes are still a lot more sustainable than beef, according to the researchers.
More people are opting for sustainability
Compared to participants in the control group (who were shown a menu without labels), 23.5 percent more participants opted for a sustainable dish when they were shown the menu with red labels. When they saw the menu with green labels, almost 10 percent more participants opted for a more sustainable product. According to the researchers, it works better if the negative impact of food is emphasized rather than the positive impact.
14.5 percent of emissions come from animal food
Animal food production is primarily driven by beef production. In total, animal food is responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In the United States in particular, the population eats more meat than the national guidelines indicate. A more sustainable diet with less meat can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from animal food production by 55 percent, the same study calculates.
In addition, a more sustainable diet provides more health benefits. “Evidence links red meat consumption to an increased risk of mortality, stroke, colon cancer and diabetes.”
With the right information, people will make the correct decisions.
Vegan is the way to go