What unsustainable behavior needs to change:
The global food system contributes significantly to CO2 emissions, and the negative impact is particularly high for meat and dairy products. Recent research indicates that food emissions alone could prevent global temperatures from staying within the safe range of the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make widespread changes in our collective diets by eating more plant-based foods (that are resource-efficient) and fewer animal-based products.
Achieving the goal of eating a more sustainable diet can be challenging, especially in indulgent surroundings. Restaurants, in particular, can have a strong influence on our culinary choices, since they rely heavily on our senses of taste and smell.
The Green Nudge:
Dr. Sophie Attwood explores the use of overlooked sensory primes like sound to promote sustainable eating in restaurants, cafes or canteens.
Images and indulgent descriptions are common ways to prime food choices, motivating diners to select more plant-rich meals. However, sensory primes targeting sight, smell, and sound can also nudge people towards lower-emitting foods. While taste and touch are important factors post-choice, the aforementioned can play a significant role pre-choice.
Let’s explore sound.
Our ears have a powerful influence on our perception of food, but are often overlooked. Congruence plays a role here, with sounds that match taste expectations (i.e. a rustle of a crisp packet, crunchy white noise with fresh crudité) shown to enhance eating experiences.
Calming music and natural sounds, such as waves and bird songs, have been linked to a higher preference for plant-based foods, including fruits and vegetables. The soothing effect of music may help us avoid cognitive fatigue and encourage more thoughtful, value-driven decisions.
By introducing relaxing soundscapes in restaurants, cafes and canteens, we can hypothesise that more sustainable plant-rich food choices will follow. Implementing different soundscapes in food service and retail settings is a cheap, easy, and unobtrusive intervention that could encourage a shift from animal-based to plant-based options. Experimentation with various soundscapes could help determine which is the most effective in promoting sustainable food choices.
Are you aware of any other Green Nudges that use our senses? Feel free to get in touch: email@example.com