Eating less meat: how to stimulate the choice for a vegetarian option without inducing reactance

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Excessive meat consumption has a negative impact on the environment, people’s health and animal welfare. The growing importance of this problem and the push and pull towards Corporate Social Responsibility make it an intersting issue, on which foodservices could respond by stimulating the choice for vegetarian options. Yet, this could lead to reactance. To avoid inducing reactance, freedom of choice and the nature of the threat should be taken into account. In this study, therefore, we tested the effectiveness of presenting vegetarian options as a norm in stimulating the choice for vegetarian options, and compared it to the effectiveness of restrictions. This by looking at the effect of different menus using these strategies on willingness to eat at a restaurant, food choice, and compliance (i.e., people wanting to eat at the restautant and choose a vegetarian option). Results show that the all vegetarian menu and the optional adding meat menu were most effective in stimulating the choice for vegetarian options. Reatance did not mediate the effects. The usage of these menus might be promising in reducing meat consumption and should be tested in real-life situations to see if indeed they can achieve a change in behaviour. Keywords: reducing meat consumption, vegetarian, norms, restrictions, reactance
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen