Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Increasing the availability of lower energy-density foods is a promising intervention to encourage healthier food purchasing but few studies have examined the effect of increasing availability of meat-free meals to promote more sustainable purchasing. We report three studies, all examining the impact of altering the availability of meat-free meals on meal selection. METHODS: Study 1 (a natural experiment in one university cafeteria) examined the impact of altering the ratio of meat-free meals (one meat-free and two meat, to two meat-free and one meat) on weekly sales of meals containing meat. Study 2 (a natural experiment in 18 worksite cafeterias) examined the impact on meat-free meal sales of a menu change designed to increase the availability of meat-free meals. Study 3 (an online study of 2205 UK-representative adults) compared meal selections when participants were randomised to ranges comprised of (a) one meat-free, three meat options; (b) two meat-free, two meat; or (c) three meat-free, one meat. RESULTS: Study 1 suggested a significant decrease in the proportion of sales of meat options when the availability of meat-free options increased (- 19.9 percentage points; 95%CIs:-25.2,-14.6), with no evidence of changes to meat-based meal sales in other university cafeterias during the same period. Findings from Study 2 were mixed: multilevel regressions found no evidence of an increase in meat-free meals following the menu change (2.3 percentage points; 95%CIs: - 1.3,5.9), while interrupted time-series analyses suggested sales did increase (2.3; 95%CIs: 0.4,4.2), but implementation of the planned change was limited. In Study 3 reducing meat-free options from 50 to 25% reduced participants' selection of meat-free options (odds ratio 0.35; 95%CIs: 0.26,0.46), while increasing meat-free options from 50 to 75% increased meat-free selections (odds ratio 2.43; 95%CIs: 1.94,3.04). There was no evidence effects were moderated by gender, socioeconomic status or usual meat consumption. CONCLUSION: Increasing the availability of meat-free options is effective at reducing meat selection and purchasing for different ratios of meat to meat-free options. The magnitude of the effect is uncertain, but with no evidence of differences in response by demographic groups when directly tested. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Study 3: Open Science Framework; https://osf.io/ze9c6 ; 6/8/2020.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12966-021-01239-z

Type

Journal article

Journal

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act

Publication Date

31/01/2022

Volume

19

Keywords

Availability, Meat, Purchasing, Vegetarian