Research & Reports

VegOut: A fresh, new social campaign to inspire plant-based eating

March 29, 2024

Social media can be a polarizing and sometimes negative place, but it is also where trends emerge and has become a great place to learn how to do new things. Plus, 90% of the US population uses it.  

Rare’s Climate Culture team developed VegOut, an innovative social media campaign proven to shift social norms by as much as 85% and increase intention to recommend a vegetarian restaurant to friends by as much as 52% — all in the name of motivating plant-based dining as a key step to eating less meat. 

Insights feeding campaign design

The Climate Culture team knew several important factors ahead of Rare’s behavior-centered campaign design process. 

  • Cutting down on meat — particularly red meat — is good for the planet and one’s health, especially in America, where the average American eats six times the recommended amount of red meat.
  • Rare’s Climate Culture Index data shows that one in three Americans wants to eat less meat. The challenge is turning interest into action.
  • An exploratory modeling study published in Nature Sustainability revealed that social norms and self-efficacy are the key drivers of population-wide dietary shifts and are more influential than climate and health risk perception.
  • Based on Rare’s qualitative studies, most medium-to-heavy meat eaters want to attend a plant-rich meal to sample vegetarian dishes. Still, very few are comfortable doing the cooking.

VegOut inspires Americans trying to eat less meat to succeed, bring their friends along on the journey, and shift social norms — the top driver of dietary shifts.

Our theory of change

The actions of people around us, both in person and online, largely influence our food choices. VegOut uses social norms to drive plant-based food choices through three key steps.

Step 1: Social content encourages individuals to suggest a plant-based meal out 

Creative messaging normalizes plant-based food dining at restaurants. Exposure to content shifts perceived norms [see data below].

Step 2: Some of the targeted individuals suggest a plant-based meal out to their friends

People who suggest a plant-based restaurant to friends extend this norming effect for plant-based food and dining in a powerful way to those closest to them.

Step 3: Some individuals who suggest a plant-based meal out with friends actually have the dining experience. 

The dinner with friends creates a low-pressure, enjoyable trial experience intended to uncover new plant-rich favorites that increase the likelihood of ordering similar items in the future.

The message

Rare tested seven creatives across three different creative executions. VegOut speaks to anyone interested in eating less meat, whether motivated by health, animal welfare, religion, or environmental action. While going vegan seems difficult, and simply cooking a new plant-based recipe can be daunting, going to a restaurant and having something prepared for you is easy. Our content highlighted the fun and tasty aspects of a veggie dining experience, making it more appealing to broad audiences.

Overhead image execution

Group text execution

Dining out execution

Research results

Social norms play an important role in food decisions. VegOut aims to drive interest in plant-based or vegetarian restaurants through creative messages that shift perceived dining norms. Intention to suggest a meal out at a plant-based or vegetarian restaurant is also important because it helps shift norms for those invited and creates an opportunity for a favorable trial experience.

Rare’s Climate Culture team conducted our study in 2023, with a sample of 3005 women between 25-39 years old across the United States. Results show that the sample VegOut creatives significantly increase people’s belief that their friends would be excited to try a plant-based or vegetarian restaurant. 

The idea that friends would be excited about a plant-based dining experience is an important part of shifting norms and lowering the barrier of suggesting a plant-based or vegetarian restaurant for a meal out with friends – whether they follow through or not.

Results also show that the sample VegOut creatives significantly increase a person’s likelihood of suggesting a plant-based or vegetarian restaurant to friends. 

Chart showing people who saw the top-performing creative execution were 52% more likely to suggest a plant-based restaurant to friends.

A call for partnerships

Rare has designed a cost-effective media strategy to leverage the many motivations for eating less meat. We plan to partner with diverse non-profits, influencers, celebrities, and business brands to amplify the VegOut message and reach 7 million women in key markets by 2025.

Recent testing revealed that 84% of social media creators actively hold back from discussing sustainability topics. Instead of requiring a ‘climate framing’, VegOut embraces the varied motivations that lead to plant-rich choices — from health to animal welfare, or simply the desire to not feel bloated by heavy meals. By offering creators and partners the ability to tailor the message to the most authentic and relevant motivations for their audiences, the messengers are much more receptive to the opportunity. 

We’ve already secured our first early partners, who are excited to lead the charge in plant-based eating. But to convene and engage this coalition in a long-term culture-shifting effort, we need continued support from donors and partner organizations.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to Natalia Paine and Brooke Betts at and