Previous research has shown that an individual’s food choices substantially affect their personal carbon footprint. However, most studies examining factors that influence environmentally relevant food choices have focused on purchasing of groceries eaten at home.

Researchers at the University of Würzburg explored how restaurant menu design might influence diners’ climate-relevant choices.

They created nine hypothetical menus in order to test two design approaches: carbon labels indicating the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with each dish, and for dishes with components that could be modified, setting the default component to either a low- or a high-emission option.

In an online study, 256 volunteers each selected one dish from each of the nine hypothetical menus, which varied in cuisine, presence of modifiable dishes, climate friendliness of default options, and presence of carbon labels.

One example of such a dish was a couscous salad...