The menu matters: one little tweak will get meat-eaters going veggie


ProVeg reveals which menu layouts prompt people to pick the most veggie meals

  • Presenting veggie options twice – both mixed into the main menu, and in a segregated veggie section – increased selection of veggie meals by 102%.
  • Presenting meat-based and veggie options together led to an 86% increase in the selection of veggie options.
  • But segregating meat-based and veggie meals reinforced the view that plant-based meals are different, which mixed eaters interpret as meaning ‘not for me’.

A survey carried out by global food awareness organization, ProVeg International, has found that people are significantly more likely to choose plant-based options in restaurants if those options are both integrated into the main menu and featured in a separate vegetarian section. 

“The use of menu design can actively promote the consumption of plant-based foods and help people  to transition to more climate-friendly diets. Our survey has uncovered simple strategies to achieve that, which we hope the catering industry will employ to good effect,” Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg International, said. 

Plant-based foods emit half as much greenhouse gas as animal-based foods, so it is vital that people are encouraged to choose more plant-based options. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also pointed out the importance of more plant-based diets to bring down carbon emissions and support biodiversity. 

“Segregated and doubled” works best

The ProVeg survey, which interviewed 1,000, mostly omnivore, people, explored how four different menu designs impact the likelihood of meat-eaters choosing vegetarian options. 

One of the main findings was that the most effective menu for triggering the selection of plant-based meals was the “segregated and doubled’ menu. 

The “segregated and doubled” menu is where the vegetarian options are presented twice – both mixed into the main menu, and in a segregated vegetarian section. Compared to a completely segregated menu design, displaying vegetarian items in this way led to a 102% increase in the selection of vegetarian options. 

“Mixed, labelled” menu does well

The survey found that a menu described as “mixed, labelled” also helps to direct consumers to plant-based meal selection. This menu listed 18 options together, with the vegetarian and meat options mixed and vegetarian options labeled with a (v). 

With this menu design, 16.4% of meat-eating respondents chose vegetarian options, compared with 83.6% who chose meat-based options. 

“Mixed, unlabelled” menu does better 

But a menu described as “mixed, unlabelled” and presenting the same mix of 18 vegetarian and meat options, but with the vegetarian options unlabelled, did better.

With this menu design, 16.9% of meat-eating respondents chose vegetarian options, while 83.1% chose meat-based options. 

“Segregated” menu falls short

A “segregated” menu presenting the nine meat options and the nine vegetarian options in a different section of the menu, with the vegetarian section labeled with (v)s performed the poorest in terms of attracting diners to eat plant-based meals. 

With this menu design, 8.8% of meat-eating respondents chose vegetarian options, compared with 91.2% who chose meat-based options. 

Menu integration more important than menu labeling

Dietary symbols are important for consumers who are seeking a guarantee that a product is vegan or vegetarian. However, these consumers typically make up less than 10% of the total market.

ProVeg is therefore recommending putting less focus on menu labeling and more focus on menu integration. 

Flexitarians abound

As part of the survey, consumers were also asked about their eating habits. A total of 32% of respondents described themselves as ‘flexitarian’, meaning they are reducing their meat consumption, while 59.3% follow an omnivorous diet. 

“ProVeg is responding to the growing number of people who wish to reduce their meat consumption by providing key resources for manufacturers, retailers and food service providers to better appeal to flexitarians,” De Boo said.

As well as providing regular reports for industry, ProVeg also runs an Incubator scheme which helps to accelerate alternative protein products to the market through financial support and communications and regulatory expertise. 


Notes to Editors

For media inquiries, email Peter Rixon at [email protected]

About ProVeg International

ProVeg is an international food awareness organization working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.

ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.

ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.


Latest updates and news

Flags in European Parliament Building in Strasbourg, France

Let’s talk about the 2024 EU Elections: Share your thoughts in our poll

With the 2024 EU elections just around the corner, we want to ask you to share your thoughts.

Healthy lunch table with vegetables and sandwiches

5 reasons to try plant-based

We’ve put together this list of five compelling reasons to explore plant-based eating. As well as being better for the planet and climate, eating a plant-rich diet can positively impact well-being.

9 Plant-Based Recipes for Eid

This year, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan comes to a close on 10 April, with the occasion…

Gain insights and explore the latest nutrition, climate, … news.

Subscribe now to receive…

  • Nutrition advice & plant-based recipes.
  • Updates on our work and projects.
  • And information on how you can support what we do.

Subscribe to the ProVeg Living Newsletter