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Healthy Food Labels Twice as Successful

Researchers from the University of Southern California conducted a national food choice experiment to determine how people respond to labels such as vegan and plant-based compared to healthy or sustainable. The results are remarkable.

Sign saying: Eat Well, Feel Good

More and more people are turning to a more plant-based diet in the knowledge that it has greater health benefits, helps you live longer and is more environmentally sustainable. However, researchers have discovered that shifting consumers away from a meat-based diet would be significantly more successful if vegan foods were marketed differently.

In their experiment, the researchers found that red-meat eaters are twice as likely to select products that are meat and dairy free when they are not labelled 'vegan'.

When a food gift basket was labelled 'vegan', 20 percent of people chose it; however, 44 percent of people opted for the same basket when it was marked 'healthy and sustainable'. 27 percent opted for the basket when it was labelled 'plant-based'.

About 42 percent chose the food basket without meat and dairy when it was labelled 'healthy', 43 percent chose it when it was marked 'sustainable'. The most powerful label was 'healthy and sustainable', at 44 percent.

Dr Patrycja Sleboda, assistant professor of psychology at City University of New York, said of the results: “This labelling effect was especially pronounced among individuals who identified as red-meat eaters and held across socio-demographic groups. Thus, changing labels is a low-cost scalable intervention for promoting healthy and environmentally sustainable food choices.”



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