Thesis subject

MSc thesis: Qualitative research about acceptance of changes in the food environment

Have you noticed that supermarkets have added more plant-based products to their assortments, such as plant-based milk and cheese? Are there more vegetarian dishes on your favourite restaurant’s menu than two or three years ago? How do you feel about it? How do Dutch consumers feel about these changes in their food environments?

The Dutch eat too much meat, dairy and fatty, sugary, and processed products, and too little plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, and grains. Obesogenic and carnivore food environments play a salient role in this. Consumers have more access and are stimulated to eat unhealthy and unsustainable foods. Changes in these environments are necessary to steer consumers to foods that promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. However, the danger of emotional backlash is lurking. As food and eating habits are an important part of people’s identity, consumers may not identify themselves with healthier and more sustainable food environments. Or they may feel like their heritage and traditions are taken away from them.

This thesis aims to research qualitatively the societal acceptance of healthier and more sustainable food environments by studying structured dialogues with consumers that have different perspectives, beliefs, and emotions around foods. The project employs a method derived from Cultural Heritage Studies and new to the field of food studies, called Emotion Networking. Emotion Networking provides the opportunity to study human dynamics around an emotionally charged object of subject.

Are you interested in this topic? Please contact Yolie Michielsen (