Baby boomers, many of whom were raised on glazed ham and stuffed turkey during the holidays, aren't entirely convinced they should change those eating habits. That could set her up for an intergenerational showdown with her fake-meat-loving younger relatives in the coming days.
Almost a third of Americans plan to make plant-based versions of traditional holiday dishes this year, according to a study published by OnePoll this week. However, there is a considerable intergenerational gap when you break down millennial responses (defined as 24 to 39 years old in the survey) versus baby boomers (56 to 74 years old).
Of the millennials, 67% said they wanted to offer plant-based substitutes this vacation, while only 24% of boomers planned to add plant-based options to traditional dishes.
The study, conducted in late November, was commissioned by Eat Just Inc., the San Francisco startup that recently signed a groundbreaking deal in Singapore to sell the world's first laboratory-grown chicken substitute. The product “Cultivated Chicken” was launched in a restaurant last weekend after the company received regulatory approval from the Food Agency in Singapore.
The brand-funded study found that 70% of millennials are considering making their holiday meals entirely plant-based. Boomer? Not as much. Only 33% would be willing to go all-in on plant-based starters and leave the cheese off their potatoes.
Even outside of fully plant-based holiday meals, vegetables appear to be much more popular with younger consumers. Of millennials, 57% said they would serve more than five plant-based dishes with holiday meals, but only 19% of boomers planned a similar number. (In fact, 49% of boomers said they wouldn't serve plant-based dishes, compared with 10% of millennials, although it's hard to imagine that they literally mean going without potatoes, bread, or vegetable sides.)
Eat Just focused the study on age demographics, knowing that "younger generations have introduced healthier and more sustainable products to their parents and grandparents to show them that better food doesn't mean they have to compromise on taste or quality," said the Andrew Noyes, director of global communications for the brand.
He admitted that "finding common ground between the generations is a challenge". 70% of millennials said they had dietary concerns for the older generation, and 61% said their parents refused to make dietary reforms.
Obviously, there could be a strong nostalgic factor at play that often overrides health conscious choices in favor of artery-clogging comfort foods, especially during the notoriously indulgent period between Thanksgiving and New Years.
This could be responsible for this statistic: only about 49% of boomers said they try to eat healthy over the holidays. In contrast, 74% of Millennials focused on lighter holiday dishes, while 39% said they were eating healthier foods in general and more plant-based products this winter.
According to the study, this gap causes friction. 44% of Millennials report that their pursuit of healthy eating during the holidays is a source of stress. For boomers? Only 29% are concerned about it.
Speaking of tense: 42% of respondents said they are stressed about cooking for someone with a picky palate. That was better than talking about politics (40%) or choosing the right gift (38%).
Perhaps to relieve some of that pressure, 47% of millennials are more engaged in preparing and cooking meals. It could also combat the myth that family traditions can't go hand in hand with plant-based foods, Noyes said.