The use of meat-related terminology on the labels of vegetarian products is politically controversial and has been banned in several countries under claims that such labels mislead consumers. At the same time, many argue that given the growing concerns about the health and environmental cost of meat consumption, meat alternatives should be promoted more widely. The scientific literature has yet to clarify whether including meat-related terminology within the names and labels of vegetarian products has any effect on their appeal to consumers. To address this research gap, we present two studies investigating whether people prefer vegetarian dishes with meat-related labels, or those with neutral labels. As attitudes towards meat and vegetarianism are highly gendered, we also included a secondary hypothesis pertaining to the moderating role of gender and conformity to gender norms on label preferences. Both studies were conducted online, with participants rating how willing they would be to consume a number of vegetarian dishes, some presented with meat-related and others with neutral labels. The results of Study 1 (n=156) and Study 2 (n=394, pre-registered) both indicated that participants preferred dishes with meat-related labels, and there was no evidence of gender or gender conformity being a moderator. A key implication of these results is that not using meat-related labels on vegetarian dishes likely decreases the appeal of meat alternatives, and consequently that banning those labels may weaken the ongoing global efforts to reduce meat consumption.
|Journal||Food Quality and Preference|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Sep 2021|
- consumer behavior
- Food choice
- Food Labeling