Replacing meat with alternative plant-based products (RE-MAP): a randomized controlled trial of a multicomponent behavioral intervention to reduce meat consumption

Filippo Bianchi, Cristina Stewart, Nerys M. Astbury, Brian Cook*, Paul Aveyard, Susan A. Jebb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Reducing meat consumption could protect the environment and human health. Objectives: We tested the impact of a behavioral intervention to reduce meat consumption. Methods: Adult volunteers who regularly consumed meat were recruited from the general public and randomized 1:1 to an intervention or control condition. The intervention comprised free meat substitutes for 4 weeks, information about the benefits of eating less meat, success stories, and recipes. The control group received no intervention or advice on dietary change. The primary outcome was daily meat consumption after 4 weeks, assessed by a 7-day food diary, and repeated after 8 weeks as a secondary outcome. Other secondary and exploratory outcomes included the consumption of meat substitutes, cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial variables related to meat consumption, and the nutritional composition of the diet. We also estimated the intervention's environmental impact. We evaluated the intervention using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Results: Between June 2018 and October 2019, 115 participants were randomized. The baseline meat consumption values were 134 g/d in the control group and 130 g/d in the intervention group. Relative to the control condition, the intervention reduced meat consumption at 4 weeks by 63 g/d (95% CI: 44-82; P < 0.0001; n = 114) and at 8 weeks by 39 g/d (95% CI: 16-62; P = 0.0009; n = 113), adjusting for sex and baseline consumption. The intervention significantly increased the consumption of meat substitutes without changing the intakes of other principal food groups. The intervention increased intentions, positive attitudes, perceived control, and subjective norms of eating a low-meat diet and using meat substitutes, and decreased attachment to meat. At 8 weeks, 55% of intervention recipients identified as meat eaters, compared to 89% of participants in the control group. Conclusions: A behavioral program involving free meat substitutes can reduce meat intake and change psychosocial constructs consistent with a sustained reduction in meat intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1366
Number of pages10
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN)
Volume115
Issue number5
Early online date27 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Keywords

  • consumer acceptance
  • consumer attitudes
  • food choice motives
  • food neophobia
  • meat
  • meat substitutes
  • sustainability
  • vegetarian

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