A sustainable diet goal app that emphasizes reduction rather than elimination


When complete elimination of meat and dairy is not possible, some users give up on their sustainable diet goals entirely. This is in spite of the environmental benefits of reduction alone (USDA & Michigan Center for Sustainability).

The project goal was to decrease commitment drop-off in users for whom elimination is not practical, by emphasizing the benefits of reduction of animal food products.

Role & Duration

UX Researcher
SPSS, Typeform, Figma, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Data Analysis, Usability Testing, Contextual Inquiry, Surveys, User Interviews

3 months

The Research Process









Stage 1 | Discover

Problem Statement

While switching to a diet free of animal products is a realistic commitment for some users, a subset of users report that their attempts are frustrating and short-lived.

Research Questions

  • Why do users gives up on their sustainable diet goals?
  • What feelins do users experience during the journey?
  • What motivates and demotivates users?


  • Discover pain points through interviews & surveys
  • Combine insights with existing research and literature
  • Determine efficacy of existing solutions
  • Develop solution to decrease commitment drop-off

Interview Insights


Guilt and/or Shame


Percieved "Setbacks" Negatively


All-or-Nothing Thinking


Overwhelmed by Information


Since guilt/shame was a common complaint, I implemented an anonymous survey using Typeform to a new group of environmentally-conscious users (who had not been interviewed) to allow for honest responses.

User Segmentation Matrix

Users varied in their abilities to stay committed to a "greener" diet. Some were able to commit to a strict regimen for a year or longer, while others updated to a flexible regimen. Of those who failed, none continued to reduce or attempted a flexible regimen.

Stage 2 | Explore


While small sample sizes involved in UX studies are meaningful, I also referred to existing research.

Guilt can drive "green" behavior like recycling.

Users continue identifying as a "vegan" even though they are consuming some animal products.
Guilt drives easy "green" behaviors like recycling, but changing your diet is difficult and guilt/perceived "setbacks" can cause an aversion. Even successful users experience cognitive dissonance: continue to identify as strict vegans while consuming animal products.

Four R's of Sustainability


Elimination-based diet goals may be too black and white for a subset of users, so I narrowed my attention to encouraging reduction to users who failed a strict regimen.

"Reduction is achievable and positively impacts the planet."


Reduction-focused sustainable diet goals can help users, for whom strict elimination is not possible, continue to reduce their carbon footprint.

User Persona

I created a persona that emphasized common features of the target users.

Competitive Analysis

Among existing solutions, features that are well-received are positive encouragement (FitBit), goal tracking (1 Million Women, MyFitnessPal), and provide resources (GoNutss, AllRecipes). Features that cause aversion include strictness, inducing shame/guilt (PETA), and high cognitive loads (r/zerowaste).

User Problems

Most Viable Product

  • Track goals (easy, incremental, and reduction-focused)
  • Positive encouragement (reframe "setbacks")
  • Weekly logging (lower cognitive load)
  • Progress framed positively (overall carbon reduced)
  • Nice to haves: resources, beginner tips, world carbon and consumption data, alternative ingredients

Task Analysis & Flow

I asked 3 users to walk me through their process of creating and logging goals on 1 Million Women, FitBit, and MyFitnessPal. I drew upon these successful apps to create the task flow for Reduce.

The linear path would be Onboarding, Account Creation, Individual Goal Creation, Track Goals, Track Progress, and Increase/Stay/Decrease Goal.

Stage 3 | Test

Qualitative Usability Testing

A usability testing was conducted using the lo-fidelity wireframe prototype to assess usability, navigation and call-to-action. 

Stage 4 | Listen

Usability Bug Review

 Initially onboarding was set to start after a user decided to create an account, but in the final iteration the onboarding came before account creation to familiarize users with the concept. The navigation was changed from the right corner to a static navigation bar on the bottom since the app is fairly simple with three main pages: profile, progress, and inspiration.


The next steps would be to compare users embarking on the diet transformation with a flexible and strict mindset and see if a reduction-based strategy actually decreases commitment drop-off.