Scientists Are Redesigning Supermarkets to Make You Go Vegetarian

Oxford researchers have redesigned stores to encourage shoppers to buy more greens and less red meat.
January 23, 2017, 2:00pm

When you drag yourself to the shops on your way home from work in the coming weeks (there are only so many times you can face the same Deliveroo guy handing over a pizza-for-one), you might find yourself filling your basket with less three-for-£10 packets of meatballs, and more carrots and cabbages.

At least that's what scientists from the University of Oxford are hoping.

READ MORE: This Is How Much Longer You'll Live If You Stop Eating Meat


It was announced yesterday that Oxford researchers, in conjunction with supermarket Sainsbury's and the Wellcome Trust charity, will be redesigning supermarkets to encourage shoppers to buy less meat and more vegetables. Because, you know, our carnivorous lifestyles are harming the planet and our health.

The project launches this week and will be trialled in Sainsbury's "local" stores, superstores, and through its online grocery service. The supermarket chain hasn't yet revealed which stores will be part of the trial, so next time you pop in to pick up some bangers for dinner, you could find yourself leaving with a packet of Linda McCartney's finest.

Proposed tactics to encourage people to buy less meat and more veg include putting veggie alternatives on the same shelves as meat products; awarding loyalty points to shoppers when they buy vegetarian products; and providing recipe cards to suggest ways of switching to a less meat-heavy diet. The research aims to find which methods are the most effective in changing shoppers' habits.

So, no Post-It notes comparing pork chops to Peppa Pig, then?

Speaking to MUNCHIES, Dr Sarah Molton who is leading the project at the Wellcome Trust, said that the study is in its early stages but the results could have the potential to change how we shop for food. She said: "The amount and type of meat and dairy products we eat are key drivers of both our health and the health of the environment and reducing how much of these products we eat is therefore a win-win."

READ MORE: Experts Say a Meat Tax Would Save Half a Million Lives

Dr Molton continued: "As for whether this can be rolled out to other supermarkets, we'll have to wait and see—it's a five year project. This research is necessary because we have so little evidence of what works and this will give us much more insight into what practical and effective solutions may look like."

In other words, the project will show how blindly we fall for marketing tricks—just like the impressionable sheep we all are. Sorry, the impressionable tofu-based meat alternatives.