Dishes labeled “vegetarian” or “vegan” lead to eating more meat!

In commercial restaurants, flexitarians (vegetarians who sometimes allow themselves to eat meat or fish) opt less often for a vegetarian dish when these dishes are presented in a vegetarian or “vegan” category than when they are mixed with others dishes.

Eating meals without meat or fish more often is a trend that is found among a large part of the population, whether for nutritional aspects and/or reducing the ecological footprint of food. But what can lead these “flexitarians”, who far outnumber vegetarians, to opt for non-vegetarian dishes more often? In restaurants, the architecture of the menu has an influence, as this study from the London School of Economics and Political Science shows.

Fewer or more vegetarian dishes ordered depending on presentation

In this research, 750 people had to imagine being at a restaurant with a friend and choose the main dish from a menu presented in random order. Its results show that:

  • When vegetarian dishes are grouped into a separate “vegetarian” category, the proportion of people who usually eat vegetarian infrequently (max. 1 vegetarian meal during the week) and who choose a vegetarian dish is twice as low as when dishes are presented in a single list.
  • Presenting vegetarian dishes with a mention such as “Chef’s recommendation” increases the proportion of these people who opt for a vegetarian dish.
  • People who frequently eat vegetarian are not influenced by the change in the architecture of the map

A stigmatizing effect that increases rejection

In other words, grouping vegetarian dishes into one category reduces the number of people who opt for these dishes, except for frequent vegetarians.

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These results go in the direction that other observations carried out in particular with prepared meals labeled or not “vegan”, and which show that the term vegan, if it is prized by vegans and vegans, has the opposite effect for the most of the others…


The London School of Economics and Political Science: Menus-with-vegetarian-sections-can-lead-customers-to-eat-more-meat


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