More and more people are turning to plant-based diets for sustainability reasons and the number of vegetarians and vegans is increasing. But eating out with friends can be a stress factor, and it can be hard to find restaurants that caters to everyone.

Picnic helps people who wants to eat plant based keep to their diets, by solving this problem. At the same time, the product is an educational source for people to learn about their friends food restrictions.

Project type
Parsons Master Thesis
My Role
Research, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing, Visual Design
6 Months


From exploratory interviews conducted, I discovered that eating with friends can be a huge friction when trying to navigate a vegan or vegetarian diet. Many people are also unaware of the environmental impact that going plant-based can have.


By making a digital product that makes it easier for friends with different diets to find a place to eat together, we can help people who eat plant based to keep to their diets. At the same time, the product can be an educational source for people to learn about their friends food preferences.

Adapting a plant based diet is one of the most impactful actions an individual can take on climate change

While reviewing literature during the research phase, I found that adapting a plant based diet is one of the most impactful actions an individual can take on climate change, as the meat industry is one of the biggest polluting, and resource depriving industries there are. I also read articles on how more and more people are in fact trying to adapt to these diets for sustainability reasons. This became the basis for my project.

Interview insights

From interviewing a diverse group of people, including people who are on plant-based diets, people who have tried and given up, and people who generally care about sustainability but have not tried to adjust their diet, I was able to gain the following actionable insights about attitudes, pain points, and areas of opportunity:

  • When one person makes a decision for their diet, it becomes something that affects their friends as well.
  • Because of health or lifestyle reasons, not everyone can take on a completely plant based diet.
  • People who don't know the real impact of not eating meat, believe that they could be motivated to try if they knew.

These insights lead to the questions that would lead the ideation process.

How might we make it easier for friends that keep different diets to eat together?
How might we inform about and encourage sustainable eating?

Ideation & testing

After a few rounds of ideation with the other students, I had a good amount of ideas for solutions to these how might we statements. Some were combined, some were scrapped, and there were 4 left to test as low-fi prototypes.

Now, after testing these ideas as low-fi prototypes and receiving feedback from users, I saw that the one solution focused on helping people eat together was clearly favorable.

The solution was to make an app where friends can share their diets, and then search restaurants and filter with their friends profile.

I felt like this idea was a clear MVP solution to one of the biggest pain points that came up during research. And a solution that could hopefully end up preventing someone from giving up on their diet.

Through putting up a quick mid-fi prototype, and doing some A B testing of different user flows, I got some insight into how the app should work in terms of filtering and showing results.


What differentiates this app from other restaurant review apps, and how is it connected to the original topic of sustainability?

The next steps of the process was to define further what features the app would have. And at this point I realized that I felt a disconnect from where the project started. So I brought back one of the HMW statements "How might we inform about and encourage sustainable eating?", and added features that would incorporate education on different diets into the product.

The system map helped with sketching and designing the final UX of the app, along with looking at competitors to define common design convention. This is where the educational aspect of the app was added onto people's profiles.

High-fi prototyping


A big part of the branding was the idea of using shapes to communicate different diets. So these shapes are reoccurring in profile images and as icons, and the complexity of the shape is related to the complexity of the diet. The logo also draws from these shapes.

Testing revealed navigation problems

Some quick tests were conducted with the first and second version of the final UX and UI. Based on feedback the navigation was a pain point that was solved in the final iteration.

Final prototype

Adding friends as filters

Most important task of adding friends as filters and searching is available right when you open the app. Confirmation images near the search button reminds users who they selected.

Browsing restaurants

On the restaurant cards and pages you can see a match score of how well the restaurants menu matches your friends diet. Together with the shape icon that correlates to the friends diet.Menu is high on the page because that's something people mentioned early on during interviews that they always have to check the menu to see what there is to eat.

Share list

A feature that tested well in mid-fi, was the idea of being able to share a list of potential restaurants with friends in the app.This also enhances the social aspect of the app, and differentiates it from other platforms further.

Friends profile and diet

Read about a friends diet in the popup on their profile. You can easily see what they eat and don’t eat as well as different reasons a person could have for being vegetarian.Access friends profile on card next to checkbox on the homepage, or see a list of friends in your user hub.

Next steps

Information about all diets needs to be more easily available. By adding a directory, users can browse all diets regardless of which their friends follow.

Also, one of the features that has been suggested by users several times when testing is the ability to make groups of friends and easily choose and search by groups. By adding this, I think it would improve the usability of the app even more.

Once this is done, there needs to be more usability testing conducted by giving participants tasks and letting them navigate freely.

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