With Gen Z being such an eco-conscious generation, many assume they’re at the forefront of the plant-based diets trends. But YPulse’s Cooking and Diets report asks Gen Z and Millennials all about their different diet choices, including their interest in vegetarian / vegan foods. While we know that the younger gen certainly supports making decisions that are better for the planet, we also know that they’re not much into defining their diet choices with certain labels.
In fact, when we ask these gens which labels describe their current diet, from a list of nine including common dietary restrictions, different plant-based options, or “unrestricted (no diet),” unrestricted is by far their most popular answer (63%). Of the options that include eating less / no meat or dairy, this is how many Gen Z and Millennials are making plant-based diet choices:
Few Gen Z and Millennials are vegan or vegetarian
Overall, only 10% of young people describe their diet as vegetarian, 7% as vegan / plant-based, and 6% as pescatarian (no meat besides fish). Millennials are more likely to choose these descriptions across the board, though—especially when it comes to vegetarianism and veganism. And yet, our Cause Conundrum trend report shows 63% of young people say it is very / extremely important for food products to be sustainable / eco-friendly. But, based on their diet choices, brands should know they can—and should—offer sustainable options without going completely meat or dairy free.
Of the low / no meat or dairy diet options to choose from, young people are the most likely to describe their diet as dairy-free, but that of course is not always an environmental choice so much as a dietary restriction. Still, it makes plant-based beverages a popular choice for young consumers. We also asked them about how regularly they use these products, as well as plant-based meat, and find going dairy-free (or choosing it less often) is slightly more popular:
Gen Z doesn’t eat plant based now, but they are interested
When it comes to which kinds of plant-based products Gen Z is eating and drinking regularly, they’re less likely than Millennials to be choosing any. Of the options, though, both gens are most likely to say they regularly drink plant-based beverages, with 17% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials saying so. Clearly, the ease and accessibility of adding plant-based beverages like almond, oat, and soy milk to their favorite drinks makes it a choice up to taste as much as meeting environmental standards. They’re each just slightly less likely to say they regularly eat plant-based meat and drink plant-based beverages regularly (15% of Gen Z and 18% of Millennials). But when it comes to just eating plant-based meat, only 6% of Gen Z are regularly choosing this option, compared to 12% of Millennials.
However, while less than two in 10 say they regularly eat or drink each kind of plant-based products, 28% of young people overall are interested in them. And though Gen Z is using these products less than Millennials right now, they’re more likely to say they’re interested in them (32% compared to 23%). In fact, more Millennials who don’t use plant-based products regularly say they aren’t interested in them than those who are, showing that while this gen is leading the trend now, Gen Z could be late adopters of it and potentially be the bigger users in the future.
As it is, brands are making plant-based products more accessible and appealing to the younger generations in hopes of pulling Gen Z in. And given that YPulse data shows only 46% of Gen Z say they are currently grocery shoppers for their households, they could be influenced to make plant-based decisions when they get older and become responsible for shopping for themselves. Especially as those who are primary grocery shoppers say the labels “all natural,” “local,” and “eco-friendly” are the top that would make them more likely to buy a grocery item. So, though not the leaders of the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles currently, Gen Z should not be counted out for their interest in these diet options.