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Research on Defaults

Data to strengthen the movement for diet change

The Better Food Foundation promotes plant-based defaults as a primary strategy to drive diet change in settings where large numbers of meals are served. Our evolving research program leverages the data from institutional partners who have adopted plant-based defaults in order to better demonstrate the impact of this strategy. Our publications and reports support our efforts to grow funding and personnel support for the broader diet change advocacy movement.

Serving Up Plants by Default: Executive Summary

The research non-profit Food for Climate League—in collaboration with Better Food Foundation,Sodexo, and researchers at Boston College—successfully tested the impact of serving plant-based dishes as the #default option within dining hall stations at three universities: Tulane University, Lehigh University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). This is the first-ever multi-site research study on plant-based defaults within all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.

Oatmilk defaults on college campuses

Recent pilots in college cafes at the University of San Diego and Pomona College show promise for the impact of using oatmilk by default in coffee shops, a change that larger chains like Stumptown and Blue Bottle have already taken. More details on impact to come.

Plant-based defaults in hospitals and cities

New York City is trailblazing a healthier future by completely flipping the script on America’s harmful food norms—and serving plants by default in city hospitals. More details on impact to come, but early results are promising: “By serving plant-based meals as the default option and enhancing patients’ food experience, NYC Health + Hospitals is on track to serve 850,000 plant-based meals this year — reducing its food-based carbon emissions by 36 percent as of February 2023 while reducing the public health burden of diet-related disease.”