Can eco-labeling motivate people to eat more sustainably?

You are aware on a rational level that ingesting meat and dairy products is bad for the environment. Methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas (GHG) released into the environment by cows, pigs, and other farm animals, has a warming effect more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it enters the atmosphere. But don’t your cravings for food take over when you’re out to eat at a fancy restaurant? Is that succulent steak too alluring to resist? What if eco-labeling—a rapid sustainability index—was available for every item on the menu?

Would that aid you in making more environmentally conscious decisions?

Evidence suggests that consumers are largely unaware of the environmental harm that their food causes. Labeling food products with sustainability information is one strategy to encourage sustainable diets. This process, known as “eco-labeling,” informs consumers about GHG emissions, water and land usage, and enables product comparisons. Eco-labeling is a rather easy approach to contribute to achieving global goals for reducing climate pollution.

Traffic lights function as self-monitoring devices and on roads. Previous attempts to educate restaurant customers through eco-labeling have only had a passable level of success. A new strategy, however, seems to perform far better, condensing information on labels about a product’s environmental impact with the emblem of a traffic light.

The following sustainability indicators are provided by the “Traffic Light Index”:

sustainable in the green moderate in color. Unsustainable in red If you’re curious about the precise efficacy of this cute visual schema, you’re not alone. University of Bristol researchers were as well. In the UK, this institution was the first to proclaim a climate emergency and to begin developing Climate Action Plans (CAP) for each of its schools. As a part of this campus-wide climate objective, local knowledge concerning links between dietary decisions and environmental effects became interesting.

The goal of the study was to see whether raising consumer awareness of the effects of various foods would encourage them to choose more environmentally friendly options and to support more eco-social values.

Participants were asked if they would prefer a burrito filled with beef, chicken, or a vegetarian option. Three mock-ups of food delivery app menus were made, each with three burrito selections and several supporting details.

Every menu included a picture of the item, its nutritional information, a Fairtrade emblem, a spice indicator, and a price that was the same for all selections. An additional “social nudge” indication, which encourages people to choose the most sustainable course of action, was included in one mock-up. The vegetarian burrito was positioned next to what appeared to be a gold star, along with the words “Most Popular.” Each burrito was given an eco-label in a different mock-up, with the beef choice receiving a “5” in red to indicate that it is not sustainable. The vegetarian option received a green “1” for sustainability, whereas the chicken option received a yellow “3,” suggesting it was neither sustainable nor unsustainable. As though they were ordinarily placing an order for food, participants were given a random choice of one of the three mock-up menus and instructed to select a burrito option. In order to gauge their motivation to act sustainably, they were also asked follow-up questions.

Results showed that when the eco-labels were taken into account, 5% more of the 1,399 adult participants chose vegetarian or chicken, the second most sustainable option, while 17% more did so. The findings, which were published in the journal Behavioural Public Policy , also showed that a third of the individuals who received the “control” menu, which did not include a social cue or an eco-label, chose the beef burrito. However, for those who had the social nudge menu, this fell to 29%, and for those who had the eco-labeled menu, it fell to 16%.

The likelihood of customers selecting more sustainable options improved dramatically when dishes on the menu were given a traffic light grade for eco-friendliness. This goes to illustrate how vital it is to offer consumers realistic and useful meta labels that are simple to grasp. Eco-labels increase one’s desire to behave sustainably.

The number of sustainable food options increased when menus included a traffic light eco-label, according to study’s lead author Katie De-loyde, Research Associate in Psychological Science, explained . Additionally, and perhaps surprisingly, participants supported the eco-label with a whopping 90% of them being in favor of the proposal. A green badge is “especially beneficial among those people who reported already being motivated to act sustainably,” according to De-loyde.

WHAT MAKES ECO-LABELING ESSENTIAL? MARKETING FOR MEAT Meat is enormous business, so much so that prominent meat organizations and brands in Europe have embraced seven misconceptions about marketing that appeal to consumers’ well-known needs to feel successful, appreciated, respected, and, ultimately, “good.” The outcome? Consume more meat!

Myth 1: Meat is not the cause of the climate crisis; it is a part of it. Myth number two: Meat is healthy. Myth 3: Consuming (red) meat makes a man stronger. Myth 4: Good mothers prepare and feed their families meat. Myth 5: Consuming meat is an act of patriotism. Myth 6: Meat consumption fosters social interaction. Myth 7: Eating meat is a matter of autonomy and preference. While the number of vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians is growing in Europe, the study titled “ Dissected — The 7 Myths of Big Meat’s Marketing ” claims that the meat industry is fighting back with all of its persuasive power by investing millions of Euros in meat marketing in an effort to slow the shift in society.

As around a third of the grain produced worldwide is used to feed animals bred for human consumption, more trees are felled to make way for cropland. In general, studies have shown that switching to a vegan diet will further lower your carbon emissions from food by cutting them in half. Flexitarian eating habits can also be beneficial.

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