The Optimise Programme: supporting individuals to reduce their meat intake

The LEAP team is interested in how we can help people reduce the amount of meat they eat, which is beneficial for both our health and the planet. We’re not encouraging people to become vegetarian – simply eating less meat can make a difference. More and more people are becoming aware of the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat and many are now trying to find effective ways to do so. Although a lot of people find it hard to reduce their meat consumption because they are not sure where to start and what we eat is mostly a result of our habits.

We have created an online programme called OPTIMISE (Online Programme to Tackle Individuals Meat Intake through Self-regulation) for adult (18 years +) meat-eaters living in the UK who are interested in reducing their meat consumption. It is a nine-week programme though individuals can do as much or as little as they like. It aims to help people self-monitor their meat consumption, learn about the health and environmental impacts of their meat intake and set personal meat reduction goals. All aspects of the programme are delivered remotely through our bespoke website. Those who use the programme will be invited to log into the website daily for the first five weeks of the study, and again daily during the ninth week to monitor their meat consumption (~5 minutes of your time each day).

Here’s an overview of the programme detailing what would happen if you signed up:

Week 1

During the first week, you would continue to eat as normal, and complete a daily meat intake questionnaire asking about your meat intake in the previous 24 hours. This allows us to measure your usual intake and will help you to see where you can make changes. At the end of this first week, you would receive feedback on the health and environmental impacts of your usual meat consumption. You would then be prompted to think about how you can reduce your meat intake, set yourself a meat reduction goal and select from a list of meat reduction actions.

Weeks 2-5 (active meat reduction)

You’d then be guided through the OPTIMISE programme for four weeks. Here you will:

1. Log your meat intake daily to get an overview of your meat consumption and notice changes over time.

2 Plan a daily action to reduce your meat intake. We have created a list of actions to make life easier.

3. Take note of your achievements each week. We would give you some feedback on changes in your meat consumption including information on how this impacts your health and the environment.

4. Evaluate your actions weekly. We will ask you to reflect on the actions you have tried that week, and whether you found them helpful.

The combinations of these tasks create what psychologists call a self-regulation process. The idea is that individuals use information about their current meat-eating habits to help them make changes in the future.

Weeks 6-9 (maintenance phase)

During the last four weeks, you’ll be asked to continue with the actions you found useful and you won’t log in to the website until week nine. During the ninth week, you would complete the daily meat intake questionnaire again so you can see how much you have achieved throughout the programme.

This might sound a little complicated but if you were to sign up for the programme you would receive email reminders and everything is explained in detail on the website.

We’d love for you to try out the OPTIMISE programme! 

Click here to register or for more information