Watch your language: Tasty words 'luring' people to healthier foods

By Thin Lei Win

Rich and zesty or low fat and vegan? Clever marketing with mouth-watering words can boost sales of plant-based dishes by more than 70 percent, experts say, amid a drive to cut meat intake to improve human and planetary health.

Describing sausages as "Cumberland-spiced" rather than "meat-free" and promoting a soup as "Cuban" instead of "low fat vegetarian" increased sales in British and U.S. cafes, found research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) think tank.

"Right now, the predominant language is 'meat-free', 'vegan' and 'vegetarian' and that doesn't have associations with deliciousness," said Daniel Vennard, head of WRI's Better Buying Lab, which aims to get people to eat more sustainable foods.

"Language isn't a silver bullet, but it's going to have a key role in reframing the food and luring in a whole new set of the population," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Many people in the United States and Europe eat more than double the recommended levels of meat for their health and experts say reducing consumption of animal products would be a relatively easy way to tackle climate change.

Scientists unveiled in January what they said was an ideal diet - doubling consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and halving meat and sugar intake - which could prevent 11 million premature deaths and cut planet-heating emissions.

But vegans are often seen as weak hippies and consumers dismiss vegetarian meals as bland, the WRI's two-year study found, urging restaurants and retailers to emphasise instead the provenance, flavor, look and feel of food.

Language such as "low fat" "reduced-sodium" or "lighter choice" also tends to lessen enjoyment of food in the United States and Britain because people believe healthy food is not tasty, the researchers said.

"The findings can help the world move towards a more sustainable diet by making plant-based foods to be more normal and more appetising," said Vennard.

"Our challenge on moving the world to a sustainable diet is about getting the masses ... the omnivores out there ... engaged in this."

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It's really not rocket science. Restaurants have known for years that words sell.

One study showed that dishes labeled with sensory descriptors such as “tender,” “succulent,” and “satin”; cultural/geographic terms like “Cajun” and “Italian”; and nostalgic terms like “homestyle,” “traditional,” and “Grandma’s” versus the same meals without those extra descriptors revealed an important insight: the descriptive labels increased sales by 27%.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you can't think for yourself, then yes, tasty words can lure you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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