Food production accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gases, making shifting people’s diets toward lower carbon foods a critical strategy for reducing emissions.

This study finds that displaying thoughtfully framed environmental messages on restaurant menus can significantly increase customers' uptake of lower carbon, plant-rich dishes. WRI finds that the two most effective descriptive messages doubled the chance that a consumer would order a vegetarian menu item. These themes are “small changes can make a big difference” and “join a movement of people choosing foods with less impact on the climate.” ​

Restaurants and food businesses should use these findings to increase sales of lower carbon menu items while helping consumers choose foods that fit a climate-friendly lifestyle. While the WRI study was done online with more than 6,000 participants, the findings can be adapted and tailored to a wide variety of retail and food service contexts. ​

More research and real-world learnings will further our base of knowledge. This study, however, shows that adding environmental messaging can be an easy, cost-effective and promising way for companies to see impact and shift consumer choices toward more climate-friendly options.​