Knowledge for better food systems

Guiding diners toward plant-rich dishes in food service

In this report, the global non-profit World Resources Institute lists 23 ways in which the food service sector could encourage diners to choose dishes that contain more plants and less ruminant meat.

The 23 interventions (shortlisted from a list of 57 based on impact and feasibility) are:


  • Reduce the amount of meat in a dish while increasing the amount of plants 
  • Improve the flavor and texture of plant-rich dishes
  • Introduce one plant-rich day per week, when all dishes served are plant-rich only
  • Improve the appearance of plant-rich dishes 
  • Increase the variety of plant-rich dishes on offer
  • Increase the relative number of plant-rich dishes on offer compared to meat-based dishes
  • Introduce plant-rich alternatives to popular meat-based dishes



  • Make self-service plant-rich food displays (e.g., buffets, shelves, food carts, or stations) more engaging
  • Increase the amount of a self-service display (e.g., buffets, shelves, food carts, or stations) that is dedicated to plant-rich dishes 



  • Use language on menus to emphasize the positive attributes of plant-rich dishes
  •  List plant-rich dishes in the main body of a menu, not in a separate “vegetarian” box or “specials” section
  • Use language on menus to recommend plant-rich dishes
  • Remove unappealing language from menus (e.g. “vegan”, “meat-free” or “vegetarian”)



  • Offer diners free samples or taste-testing events for plant-rich dishes 
  • Publicise the environmental benefits of plant-rich dishes using marketing materials like posters, leaflets, or TV screens 
  • Run cross-product promotions on plant-rich dishes and selected drinks, side dishes, or desserts 
  • Allow diners to add meat to a plant-rich dish for a surcharge



  • Provide chefs and food preparation staff with information about the health and environmental benefits of plant-rich dishes 
  • Train chefs and food preparation staff in how to cook and prepare plant-rich dishes
  • Encourage front-of-house staff (e.g., waiters, hosts) to try plant-rich dishes themselves 
  • Give chefs and food preparation staff access to the right tools, equipment, and ingredients to prepare plant-rich dishes
  • Reward chefs and food preparation staff who create popular plant-rich dishes 
  • Provide front-of-house staff (e.g., waiters, hosts) with talking points to promote plant-rich dishes to diners 


Read the full report, Playbook for Guiding Diners Toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service, here. See also the Foodsource resource What interventions could potentially shift our eating patterns in sustainable directions?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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