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Changing public canteen spaces can contribute to increasing the consumption of plant-based meals

New research shows the short-term efficacy of interventions to promote the choice of plant-based meals in a university canteen.

Meal contexts can have a significant impact on food practices. Recent research suggests that changing environmental aspects, such as repositioning food products, redesigning menus, or advertising meal alternatives, can help shape food consumption. Despite the increasing awareness of the importance of meal environments, its potential for promoting more sustainable food choices is still insufficiently understood.

A study, recently published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, showed that intervening in public canteens can help increase the consumption of plant-based meals. The intervention included introducing promotional posters, providing an environmental footprint calculator for foods, as well as reformulating menus to highlight the most sustainable food choice. In addition to modifying the physical context, the intervention also included kitchen staff training to improve the knowledge and skills required to prepare appealing and balanced plant-based meals.

The study found an increase in the consumption of plant-based meals during the intervention week. However, data collected in the post-intervention period, showed that after withdrawing intervention materials, eating patterns tended to shift back to baseline levels. The researchers involved in the study emphasized that short-term, low-cost interventions can have a significant impact on behavior, but obtaining more permanent change may require consistent efforts and longer implementation periods.

Access the full paper here.


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