Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Alexandra Navarro

Location: Argentina
Academic field: Social communication
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title (Spanish original): Las universidades públicas de Argentina como instituciones clave para la reducción del consumo de productos de origen animal: Actores, intereses y prácticas involucradas para lograr el compromiso de incorporar menús 100% vegetales en sus comedores estudiantiles
  • Title (English translation): Public universities in Argentina as critical institutions for reducing animal food product consumption: Actors, interests, and practices involved in achieving a commitment to incorporate 100% vegetable menus in their student canteens
  • Keywords: Diet change. Meat consumption reduction. University canteens. Argentina.
  • What We Learned From It:
    • We have a better understanding of these questions: What practical issues should one consider if one wants canteens in public universities in Argentina to serve vegetarian food? What practical steps can one take to make this happen and to sustain it for the long term? Can serving vegetarian meals save universities money, reduce environmental impacts, and help students adopt a vegetarian diet?
    • We learned about: (1) Operations of university canteens. (2) Budgets of university canteens, with an analysis of the budget of the University of La Plata. (3) Canteen regulations (e.g. who make them). (4) Users of canteens (e.g. are they interested in vegetarian /plant-based meals). (5) Relevance for other communities (e.g. "Argentina against Hunger"). (6) The need to consider the cooking, quality, and taste of the food. (7) Communication strategies to make offering vegetarian food in university canteens a success (e.g. make the choice of vegetarian food simple and easily visible to canteen users so they do not feel that they have to review complex information or change their habit; make vegetarian food the default rather than an option). (8) Strategies to sustain interest in vegetarian foods in university canteens and reduce meat consumption over time (e.g. present plant-based food as a way to mitigate climate change, contribute to food sovereignty, reduce food waste, support cultural and religious minorities). (9) Infographics of environmental impacts if university canteens offer plant-based menus.


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Providing people with an appropriate and supportive food environment is among the most effective interventions one can use to change people's food choices and diet. People situated in places and surroundings that encourage, enable, and entice them to reach out to a particular kind of food will likely consume that food. But food environments are notoriously complex and multi-faceted, and changing them is very challenging. There are not that many opportunities where one can have a significant influence on an entire food environment. Student canteens in Argentina's public universities offer one such opportunity.
  • Argentina is not a country with food environments that are conducive to adopting a vegetarian diet. Meat consumption is seen as necessary and highly positive, and meat production is significant. A topic focused on a possible way to reduce meat consumption in that country is therefore to be welcomed.
  • Focusing on young people at institutions respected by the public has a broad impact on the wider society.
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