Young Peoples’ Environmental Concern Drives Demand For Plant-Based Meat
Attitudes towards sustainable diets are changing among U.S. adults, especially in the younger generations. The preferences of Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997-2019) to consume meat alternatives are encouraging long-term growth in the plant-based food category.
Impossible Foods, the plant-based meat company behind the famous Impossible Burger, has been surveying attitudes among U.S. adults with the help of independent research firms. They’ve found that, while taste is consistently consumers’ number one motivator for plant-based meat purchases, other motivators have evolved: in their 2019 survey, environmental concern is number 3 on the list of purchase motivators. When the Impossible Burger was first released in 2016, it wasn’t even in the top 10.
Younger generations are more likely to report purchasing plant-based meat because it’s “better for the environment.” The 2019 survey shows that the consumption of plant-based meat has increased across generations, with 20% of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and over half of the Gen Z population consuming it at least once a month.
As younger generations are becoming parents, the demand for plant-based meat alternatives is expected to grow. Many of their children are developing a palate for sustainable, healthy eating, and plant-based meats are a normal part of their upbringing. In fact, 72% of Millennials with children report consuming plant-based meats more often, compared to 60% of Millennials without children. Millennial parents also report trying to teach their children about environmental sustainability and the connection between food choices and the climate, much more so than Baby Boomers report doing with their children.
According to a 2016 study, nearly 90% of Millennials and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) believe we need to consume less in order to protect the planet for generations to come. This belief is held by 72% of consumers in general. Consuming less also means specifically consuming less meat. When asked if meat is an important part of American culture, 76% of Baby Boomers and Gen X agree, while only 61% of the Gen Z population thinks so. Younger generations are less attached to the idea of meat as a main dish and other foods as side dishes. They are also more likely to spend more on food that doesn’t harm the environment and animals, with 62% of Gen Z and Millennials being willing to do so, compared to only 32% of Baby Boomers.
It’s the younger generations that are fighting to increase awareness of the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity on this planet. This is reflected in their food and lifestyle choices. It’s important that we embrace this shift in values as we support companies like Impossible Foods in developing plant-based meats that make it easier for meat lovers to make food choices that are better for the planet, and for animals, all while satisfying their cravings.