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Study: Younger generations drive consumption of plant-based food, while baby boomers lag behind

Younger age groups are driving the consumption of vegetarian and vegan food, according to an EAT-GlobeScan survey. This trend presents a significant opportunity for sustainable food brands.

GlobeScan chart: Plant-based consumption across generations

Source: Alana Duval/GlobeScan

Since 2021, GlobeScan has partnered with EAT, a science-based global platform for food system transformation, to conduct the Grains of Truth consumer research series. This annual survey, conducted in 31 markets worldwide, aims to delve into consumers' concerns about the current food system, their attitudes and behaviors toward consuming healthy and sustainable food, and their viewpoints on who should lead the transformation of the food system. 

This study details the significant differences in views among age groups. This year, the research shows that although baby boomers are generally more likely to say they frequently eat healthy food, they are less likely to report frequently eating a plant-based diet: Only 16 percent of baby boomers and those older say they eat plant-based food "most" or "all of the time" compared to Generation Z and millennials, with 27 percent each.  

Most importantly, Gen Z consumers (just like their Gen X counterparts) report an increase in adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, with a 5 percentage-point jump since 2021.  

What does this mean?

Younger consumers are driving the consumption of vegetarian and vegan food, and this trend presents a significant opportunity for sustainable food brands.

However, it is crucial to consider other cohorts, such as baby boomers, who are lagging in adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet. The shift from a meat-based to a plant-based diet can only be fully realized with the participation of all age groups if we are to reap the benefits, both in terms of public health and climate change mitigation.

Survey question: Now we would like you to answer a few questions about what you do in your everyday life. Please indicate how often you do each of the following – I eat vegetarian or vegan food: Rarely, Sometimes, Most of the time, All of the time.

Source: GlobeScan and EAT Grains of Truth report (survey of 29,565 people in the general public across 31 countries and territories in July-August 2023)

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