Of course you can!
So why couldn’t the researchers?
An online survey asked consumers to order virtual meals after randomly looking over menus that either had some form of climate labeling or none at all. 23.5% more of those who ordered from a menu that noted “the least green” choices made a “sustainable” meal choice than those who ordered from menus without such information.
More than 5,000 adults 18 and older participated in the test in March and April of this year. They were told to imagine that they were at a restaurant ordering dinner. Subjects were randomly assigned to view only one of three menus on which every food option was identified by a photo that could be clicked when placing an order. One menu featured standard, climate neutral codes below each meal photo. Another featured red labels stating “high climate impact” under meals that included beef. A third menu featured green labels stating “low climate impact” under those meals that did not include beef.
The researchers concluded that both the high and low climate impact menu labels were effective at encouraging more sustainable food selections compared to the control.
No, they were not. The study literally proves nothing about actual food selection, because the study involved theoretical food choices only in which the real life consequences most central to a restaurant experience were conspicuously missing. The subjects picked food knowing that 1) they didn’t have to pay for it and, most importantly, 2) they didn’t have to actually eat it. There was no downside whatsoever to choosing the “sustainable” food. Of course more people decided to be “environmentally responsible.”
Hell, I’ll choose a plant-based burger hypothetically all day long—just so I know I’ll never have to eat the real thing.
Studies like this are constructed to support agendas, and then are cited by journalists and policy-makers to justify dubious laws and regulations. This is an excellent example of why the public increasingly doesn’t trust “science” and research. Scientist and researchers are too often untrustworthy.