Baby boomers, many of them reared on glazed ham and stuffed turkey for the holidays, aren’t fully convinced that they should change those dining habits. That might set them up for a generational showdown with their fake-meat-loving younger relatives over the coming days.
Almost a third of Americans plan to make plant-based versions of traditional holiday dishes this year, according to a study released this week from OnePoll. But there’s a considerable gap between generations when you break down the responses of millennials (defined in the survey as ages 24 to 39) compared to baby boomers (ages 56 to 74).
Of millennials, 67% said they plan to serve plant-based substitutes this holiday, while only 24% of boomers were planning to add plant-based options to traditional dishes.
The research, conducted in late November, was commissioned by Eat Just Inc., the San Francisco startup that recently landed a groundbreaking deal in Singapore to sell the world’s first lab-grown chicken substitute. The “cultured chicken” product debuted at a restaurant last weekend after the company secured regulatory approval from Singapore’s Food Agency.
The brand-funded research found 70% of millennials said they would consider reconfiguring their holiday meals to be entirely plant based. Boomers? Not so much. Only 33% would be willing to go all-in on plant-based entrees and drop the cheese from their potatoes.
Even outside of fully plant-based holiday meals, veggies are looking to be a lot more popular with younger consumers. Of millennials, 57% said they would be serving more than five plant-based dishes at holiday meals, but only 19% of boomers were planning for a similar number. (In fact, 49% of boomers said they would be serving zero plant-based dishes, compared to 10% of millennials, although it’s hard to imagine they literally mean going without potatoes, breads or vegetable sides.)
Eat Just focused the study on age demographics knowing that “younger generations have introduced healthier, more sustainable products to their parents and grandparents with the hope of showing them that eating better doesn’t mean they have to compromise on taste or quality,” said the brand’s head of global communications, Andrew Noyes.
He acknowledged that “finding a common ground between generations is a challenge,” with 70% of millennials saying they had concerns about what the older generation eats, and 61% said their parents refuse to reform their diets.
Obviously there could be a strong nostalgia factor at play, often overruling health-sensible choices in favor of artery-clogging comfort food, especially during the notoriously indulgent period between Thanksgiving and New Year.
That might account for this stat: Only about 49% of boomers said they’re trying to eat healthy over the holidays. By contrast, 74% of millennials were focused on lighter festive fare, while 39% said they wanted to eat healthier food in general and more plant-based products this winter.
That divide is causing friction, according to the research, with 44% of millennials reporting that their quest to eat healthy is a source of stress during the holidays. For boomers? Only 29% are anxious about it.
And speaking of tense, 42% of those polled said they get stressed out about cooking for someone with a picky palate. That scored higher than talking politics (40%) or choosing the right gift (38%).
Maybe to allay some of that pressure, 47% of millennials are getting more involved in meal prep and cooking. That could also combat the myth that family traditions can’t go hand-in-hand with plant-based food, said Noyes.