- Participation in “Plant-Powered Monday,” a 12-week challenge of adopting vegetarian diets every Monday, led to long-term reductions in meat consumption among a majority of participants, even six months after the initiative had finished.
- Around 70% of participants found reducing meat intake easy and noted a strong commitment towards maintaining at least one meat-free day a week. The biggest challenge was dealing with differing dietary preferences and habits of friends and family.
- Health was consistently mentioned as the primary motivation for decreasing meat consumption. However, environmental concerns, including climate change, energy-saving, and water conservation, became more prominent motivators by the end of the program.
- The study was conducted in Bedford, N.Y., an area with higher income and educational levels than the average U.S. community. Therefore, researchers underline that the results might reflect higher existing awareness and pre-existing lower meat consumption in this community.
Adopting a vegetarian lifestyle just for one day a week may promote long-term adjustments in eating habits even after the initial program has wrapped up, according to a recent investigation.
During the research, 320 families from Bedford, N.Y., who participated in the town’s “Plant-Powered Monday” initiative in 2018 were questioned. This 12-week challenge involved adopting vegetarian diets every Monday.
Six months after the program had ceased, about 57% of respondents noted that they were consuming less meat than they had prior to the initiative, and over 70% stated that they continued to abstain from meat every Monday or at least one day per week.
Reducing Meat Intake Was Not as Difficult as Initially Thought
Close to 70% of participants found the reduction in meat consumption to be easy or very easy, and 68% felt a heightened dedication toward maintaining a meatless day weekly. They cited that the largest challenge to sticking to a meatless diet was dealing with the various preferences and eating patterns of friends and family members.
Health and Environment as Motivation for Eating Less Meat
Participants were also surveyed at the beginning and end of the program. Across the three surveys, health was repeatedly identified as the primary motivation for lessening meat intake.
By the end of the campaign, however, while health remained a motivation, considerations related to climate change, the environment, energy saving, and water conservation became more prominent. Although these considerations slightly decreased in the following six-month survey, they still ranked higher than when the program initiated, according to the study.
This research was shared at a recent gathering of the American Public Health Association, held in Philadelphia.
A Study of Affluent Communities and Eating Habits
The researchers emphasized that Bedford, N.Y., has a higher education and income level than the average U.S. community. Therefore, the results lean towards better awareness and slight behavioral changes since participants were already consuming less meat before the initiative started, according to study author Becky Ramsing, a senior program officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
She also described how these findings can improve our comprehension of which strategies are most effective in developing community awareness and action surrounding food and climate topics.
Generally, research shared at gatherings are viewed as preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Harvard Medical School provides advice on transitioning to vegetarianism.