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Food4Thought provides caterers with the Why and How of increasing their plant-based offering.
There are many good reasons for putting more plants on plates: inclusivity, the climate, pandemic prevention, noncommunicable diseases such as colon cancer induced by red meat.
We can provide you with four recipe databases for plant-based foods. In addition, we can link you up with several NGOs that offer plant-based cooking training, for free or for a small fee.
More plants on the menu, same order volumes
An experiment at three Cambridge University restaurants varied the share of vegetarian options in the menu. The researchers, among them Dame Theresa Marteau, found that sales volume was not determined by the availability of animal products. If more plant-based options were on the menu, even traditional meat-eaters ordered more of them.
Study authors: Emma E. Garnett, Andrew Balmford, Chris Sandbrook, Mark A. Pilling, and Theresa M. Marteau
Title: Impact of increasing vegetarian availability on meal selection and sales in cafeterias
Date: Oct 2019
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
“Our results indicate that meal selection is neither fixed nor random, but rather is partially determined by availability.”
The researchers varied the number of vegetarian lunch options at a Cambridge college restaurant between 17 and 50%. On average, if vegetarian options made up 1% more of the menu, their share in total sales increased by 0.3% (graph A).
The researchers checked for two potential problems: 1) There might be a rebound effect: On days when customers ordered more vegetarian food for lunch, they would then order non-vegetarian options for dinner. This was not the case in the dinner sales data. 2) Meat-eaters might be put off by the vegetarian options and get their meat elsewhere. This was also not the case. Instead, those students who previously tended to order the meat option now ordered the vegetarian option more often (graph B).
The share of vegetarian options does not affect overall sales
In graph C you can see how the experiment affected the number of meals sold at the college restaurant. While there is a lot of random variation due to week and weekday differences in order volumes, increasing the share of vegetarian options did not affect the total number of meals sold. In other words, the restaurant sold the same amount of meals, whether its menu was 17 of 50% vegetarian. (Graph C)
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