Lauren Marie Murray



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Greenhouse gases are the driving force behind climate change with 20-30% of greenhouse gases contributed by the Western diet. Research suggests a decrease in environmental impact from food production with an overall US dietary reduction in meat and dairy and an increase of fruit, vegetable, and grains. The objectives of this study were to determine the greenhouse gas emissions of foods served in the dining halls at a mid-sized private university and to develop and implement an educational intervention aimed at behavior change. The transportation and production emissions of foods in a dining hall were determined through Clean Metrics Food Carbon Emissions Calculator. The information was translated into educational materials using a color-coded ranking system to demonstrate individual food emissions. The materials included posters, table tents and labels and were displayed for three months in a campus dining hall. Finally, a thematic analysis was employed to examine the impact of the intervention on students. Overall, consistent with existing research, animal products such as beef and lamb were found to have the highest emissions whereas plant-based products such as mushrooms and cucumbers were found to have the lowest emissions per pound of product. Themes extracted from the evaluation of the educational intervention included increased awareness and knowledge about sustainable eating but little impact on actual behavior was reported. However, this research has been utilized to create an educational program for the creation of a completely plant-based dining station in Virginia West Kettering dining hall.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Diana Cuy Castellanos

Primary Advisor's Department

Health and Sport Science


Stander Symposium project

Breaking Down Barriers to Sustainable Eating at the University of Dayton