Take a look at what’s for dinner over the decades and you will find more veggies and less meat on people’s plates. Not only are health concerns associated with the standard American diet being taken more seriously, but studies are also showing that millennials’ deep concern for the environment is leading to a boom in vegetarian dining that may completely reshape the future of food.
Ben McKean, founder and CEO of Hungryroot, predicted in an Observer op-ed that vegetables will outshine meat by the year 2020. And the shift will largely be thanks to the millennial generation. A study from 2014 titled “Outlook on the Millennial Consumer” highlighted how members of this age group are choosing foods according to their conscience and paying closer attention to ingredients and their origins, spelling bad news for animal agriculture.
Livestock produce 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire transportation sector combined. According to the United Nations, at least 26 percent of the world’s terrestrial surface is devoted to livestock grazing, a number that will only grow if the demand continues to soar. Simultaneously, the number of vegetarian restaurants and plant-based food products has grown significantly, thanks to a food revolution waged by younger generations.
McKean argues that youngsters are not simply trading in meat for vegetables, but redefining what a “veg-centric” meal entails: equally delicious foods without the label of “alternative.” As climate change continues to intensify, the considerations of shifting the balance to more plant-based food is worth a closer look.