Language is a funny thing, isn’t it? Think about it: the way that we combine words easily dictates how we feel about the subject behind the words. Why is that, you may ask? Well, it’s simple, really. Words are powerful things, and they should not be taken lightly, even when discussing topics such as food.
Let’s take menus, for instance. If you see vegetarian dish titled exactly what it is, like, “roasted Brussel sprouts“, chances are you’re less than thrilled about the proposition of this menu item. However, change the wording to spruce it up and specifying how they’re cooked, and you’ve changed the game. Suddenly, roasted Brussel sprouts go from plain Jane to scrumptious.
The basis of this begs the question: Are we doing ourselves a disservice by the way we’re labeling vegetarian options on menus?
It’s an easily ignored fact, but the truth of it is that the production of meat may not be environmentally conscious. Ah, yes, and the vegans and vegetarians of the world unanimously let out a deep sigh. You see, the massive amounts of grain used and water use towards the meat industry are taking away resources such as water utilizing it for the production of meat.
The production of meat has been known to cause less than admirable consequences to the environment, specifically climate. According to a study conducted in 2016, if everyone on the entire planet became vegan by 2050, then up to 70 percent of food-related carbon emissions would be cut.
With numbers like that, it makes you wonder why we aren’t designing a society around plant-based proteins and meals. However, this could actually fall at the fault of words more than anything else.
A recent study shows that people aren’t leaning towards these plant-based meals due to the wording of the items. There’s a scientific reasoning behind the way people’s brains read certain descriptive words trigger impulses more than others. For example, you’re more likely to order something with descriptive words such as “succulent” and “caramelized”, rather than the high and dry “greens” descriptor that is usually read on the vegetarian items of a menu.
This study also found that when you swap out the descriptive words of a veggie-heavy dish from the bland to the indulgent, more people fared with vegetable dishes.
Shocking revelation, isn’t it? The thing is, when all you have to base a meal off of is the words, words count more. If you want someone to order something on your menu, sprucing up the text is the bulletproof way to go.
By simply adding adjectives that carry for weight to it, and are commonly associated with indulgences, you’re putting your plates up for a higher chance to being selected.
In such a competitive food environment such as we are living in today, it seems almost too easy to simply alter the wording on a description of any given menu item. However, the proof is in the pudding, and you know what they said about the pudding: it doesn’t lie.