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Eco-labels on menus encourage diners to go green

New research has revealed that diners are more likely to order eco-friendly dishes thanks to new labelling on menus.

Academics at the University of Bristol have found that a traffic light system of eco-friendliness next to dishes on a menu increased the likelihood of diners opting for more sustainable options.

The researchers asked participants whether they would order a burrito with a beef, chicken, or vegetarian filling. Each burrito was accompanied with a traffic light-style ranking of sustainability, with the vegetarian option being green indicating it was the most sustainable.

Findings showed five per cent more of the 1,399 adult participants went veggie when the eco-labels were included, while 17 per cent more went for vegetarian or chicken, the second most sustainable option.

The research also suggested that restaurants and cafes could soon be introducing eco-ratings to their menus, with the vast majority of those surveyed being open to the idea.

Lead author Katie De-loyde, Research Associate in Psychological Science, said:

“Adding a traffic light eco-label to menus increased the selection of more sustainable food items. Furthermore, and somewhat surprisingly, participants were positive about the eco-label, with a huge 90% of participants supporting the idea.”

The findings follow a number of other studies in recent years, which suggest that eating meat and dairy may have a negative impact on the environment.

Eating meat and dairy products can have various adverse effects on the environment, largely owing to the huge amounts of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, cows, pigs, and other farm animals release into the atmosphere.

Experts at the university also point to the fact that more trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, with a third of all grain produced in the world used to feed animals raised for human consumption.