Insights into parents' and teachers' support for policies promoting increased plant-based eating in schools

Lisa Roque, Lúcia Campos, David Guedes, Cristina Godinho, Monica Truninger, João Graça

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Global environmental and public health challenges related to current food systems call for large-scale shifts towards increasingly plant-based diets, especially in Western meat-centric societies. School meal systems can play a role in these changes due to their widespread prevalence and multi-sectoral impact. However, there is a lack of evidence about how adults involved in the school meals system perceive school-based pro-environmental food policies, which limits the ability to align those policies with the needs and expectations of the school community. This study aimed to address this knowledge gap by exploring parents' (n = 104) and teachers' (n = 252) support for policies to promote increased plant-based eating in public schools in a highly meat-centric EU country (Portugal). Overall, teachers seemed to be slightly more supportive of such policies and displayed more favorable (injunctive and dynamic) norms toward plant-based eating, more negative appraisals of meals with meat (i.e., perceived healthiness, naturalness, and sustainability), and lower attachment to meat consumption. Furthermore, injunctive norms in favor of plant-based meals were linked with higher support for measures promoting plant-based meals in schools, in both samples (parents, teachers). Lower meat attachment and favorable perceived meal attributes (e.g., perceptions about plant-based and fish meals) were associated with teachers' support for measures promoting plant-based meals in schools. These findings suggest that future efforts and research with parents and teachers to enable less meat-centric and more flexitarian food practices in schools should consider social and motivation variables relevant to plant-forward transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106511
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Flexitarianism
  • Meat consumption
  • Plant-based diets
  • Policy support
  • School meals


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