Studies have shown that young people tend to be more engaged with and aware of the effects that human-driven pollution is having on the health of our planet. And one new study shows that awareness is manifesting itself in an interesting way: in something called “menu anxiety.”
“Menu anxiety” refers to the awareness of how various aspects of the food industry cause harm to the environment, and the desire to take those impacts into account when ordering at a restaurant or on an app.
The study, as reported by the media platform Green Queen, surveyed 2,000 people and found that 41% of Millennials and Generation Z (aged 18-43) are prone to menu anxiety, compared to only 15% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (aged 44-77).
Part of the awareness may be self-propagating, as the study suggests younger people know that their peers tend to be more environmentally aware. The study revealed that 47% of younger participants like to wait to see what their friends are ordering before they order, compared to 30% of older participants.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that a significantly higher percentage of younger participants were drawn to vegetarian and vegan options. Also, an overwhelming 77% of younger participants wanted restaurants to be more transparent about the environmental impact of their offerings, compared to 58% of older participants.
Vegetarian or low-meat diets have consistently been shown to have a lower negative environmental impact than heavily meat-based diets, in large part due to the huge amount of planet-overheating gases produced by the livestock industry.
One study showed that if the biggest meat eaters in the UK switched to low-meat diets (not even full vegetarianism) it would have an equivalent positive impact to taking 8 million gas-powered cars off the road.
“Understanding our environmental impacts shouldn’t just be a younger generation thing,” Jessica Hann, Avocado Green Mattress’ senior vice president of brand marketing and sustainability said in a statement reported by Green Queen. “We should all be pro-clean air, pro-clean water and pro-healthy climate. We’re all responsible for the planet we leave behind for our kids and grandkids.”
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