There is a science behind the way that stores are designed to convince consumers to purchase certain products. For example, customers are naturally inclined to turn right and walk counterclockwise around a shop, so many retailers design their shops with that in mind. Store layouts are also designed to drive us, the consumer, to make impulse buys from the moment we step foot into the store to the moment when we step up to a register – lined with cheap candy and drinks, jewelry, and accessories. While all of these methods are self-serving ways to generate even more money, in the UK, some shoppers might soon be part of a new experiment in growing sales for the greater good.

In an effort to drive consumers to purchase more fruit, vegetables, and vegan meat alternatives, a program called Our Planet, Our Health will team up with UK grocery stores. The program is being funded as a part of the UK’s £5 million Wellcome Trust program, which aims to improve both human and environmental health by encouraging people to eat more fresh produce and less red meat.

In order to do that, “nutritionists, political economists, and epidemiologists at Oxford will study how animal foods affect health and the environment and they will then work with Sainsbury’s [a UK grocery chain] to present those findings in ways people can understand,” Sarah Molton, head of Our Planet, Our Health, told The Guardian. Proposals for stores who will undergo the trials include “placing vegetarian alternatives on the same shelves as meat products, giving vouchers and loyalty points to shoppers who choose vegetarian products, and providing recipes and leaflets that outline how shoppers can eat less meat.”

The way that stores are designed has a huge impact on how we shop, so we applaud the efforts of Our Planet, Our Health, especially at a time when more people than ever are learning about the connection between animal products, our health, and the environment. The reality is, our global appetite for meat and dairy is at the center of our current environmental crisis.

Animal agriculture currently uses around 45 percent the world’s arable land– for raising animals and growing feed. It also uses a majority of our precious freshwater stores, all while producing an inordinate amount of air and water pollution. Adding insult to injury, the livestock system is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector and drives rampant deforestation across the world – both of these issues are driving countless plant and animal species to the brink of extinction. 

But did you know that, if we were to reduce our consumption of animal products and choose more plant-based foods instead, we could potentially cut our carbon footprint in half and save 162,486 gallons of water annually? Considering the fact that the world’s population is set to increase by over two billion people by the year 2050 – meaning more potential demand for meat and dairy – we nee to do all we can to reduce our impact, now.

Hopefully, if the trial in the UK yields successful results, more grocery stores will adopt methods to encourage consumers to purchase more plant-based foods. This single move has the potential to improve human health and lend a big hand to the environment – two things we desperately need! But you don’t have to wait for a program like this to come to a store near you, to learn more about how you can use your food choices to benefit the world around you, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign. 

To learn more about Our Planet, Our Health, visit their official website.

Image source: Thaiview/Shutterstock