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Nudging to reduce meat consumption: Immediate and persistent effects of an intervention at a university restaurant

Journal article
Authors Verena Kurz
Published in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
Volume 90
Pages 317-341
ISSN 0095-0696
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 317-341
Language en
Keywords Nudging, Field experiment, Meat consumption, Climate change mitigation, behavioral economics, energy-conservation, field experiment, habit, formation, food choices, incentives, health, substitution, environment, strategies
Subject categories Psychology, Economics


Reducing meat consumption is considered to have great potential to mitigate food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I conducted a field experiment with two restaurants to test if nudging can increase the consumption of vegetarian food. At the treated restaurant, the salience of the vegetarian option was increased by changing the menu order and enhancing the visibility of the vegetarian dish. The other restaurant served as a control. Daily sales data on the three main dishes sold were collected from September 2015 until June 2016. Results show that the nudge increased the share of vegetarian lunches sold by on average 6 percentage points, and that the treatment effect increased over time. The change in behavior is partly persistent, as the share of vegetarian lunches sold remained 4 percentage points higher after the intervention ended than before the experiment The intervention reduced GHG emissions from food sales by around 5 percent (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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