What Millennials Can Teach Us About Plant-Based Eating
Millennials are often described in contradicting ways. This demographic born between 1982 and 2004 said to have coined the phrase “selfie” may live in a dual reality. Some describe them as self-involved narcissists with a need-it-now mentality. Others say they are the most involved generation who care deeply about the environment, global issues and creating a just society.
The eating habits of millennials are as diverse as their reputations. Some are locavores who crave fresh, sustainable food that makes them feel as vital as the life force coursing through their green juice. They hoard recipes, experiment in the kitchen and will travel a distance to dine on food harvested in the neighborhood. Others embrace fast food options including chicken fingers, burgers and fries with their shake and consider vending machine fare real food. Dozens of eating style permutations exist between these two extremes. These may include limiting or eliminating animal products, refined sugar, processed junk food, gluten, dairy and other foods that either spark individual allergies.
Millennials are said to want to change the world and make it better. So what about changing their diets, eating more locally grown foods and making their bodies a better place in which to live?
It’s easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet -Margaret Mead
One need not eschew all animal-based foods to benefit from the plant-based life. It’s a personal choice and one that will evolve over a lifetime.
If you crowd-out your plate with more foods that come from the plant world you are on your way. These may include whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, nut butters, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods also show up in greens powders and traditional protein powders. Think peas, brown rice, sea vegetables, hemp and pumpkin seed protein.
A myriad of plant-based meat substitutes designed to resemble and taste like animal-based foods have flooded the marketplace. Faux meat and dairy-free cheese products get demonized for being made of fake, hyper-processed or detrimental ingredients. Companies like Beyond Meat, Daiya Foods and Kite Hill putting out high quality, whole plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are redefining healthy, plant-strong ‘fast’ food. Soy is no longer the lone plant protein available for non-meat-eaters.
For those leaning into a more plant-based eating style, these alternative protein options serve as ‘transitional’ foods. They make the exploration of eating less meat beyond palatable. Plenty of evidence-based research points to the fact that even well-bred meat is not the lesser of two evils.
According to One Green Planet, one of the largest digital media publishers that reach millions of millennials every month, readers are embracing plant-based foods. As one of the most powerful consumer groups in the world with over a trillion dollars in buying power, millennials recognize the environmental impact their food choices have on society and the environment. They embrace shopping (and eating) with a conscience. In fact, according to OGP, one in ten millennials is vegan or vegetarian and these plant-based eaters are demanding more plant-based options.
“If every person in the U.S. were to choose more plant-based foods, we could cut our carbon footprint in half, save around 200,000 gallons of water each redirect enough grain from the livestock to feed roughly 2 billion people.”
OGP has started a movement #EatForThePlanet” with a simple goal of changing the way we think about our food choices starting at your next meal.
They suggest, if you want to dip your toe in a healthier lifestyle, a delicious culinary journey, and support a more animal-friendly world, here are three easy steps to make it happen.
1. Eat meatless one day a week. The internet is bursting with mouth-watering breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas (packaged or made-from-scratch) made exclusively from whole, plant-based foods.
2. Make one meal a day plant-based.
3. Recreate your favorite foods or purchase them without meat or dairy (tacos, pizza, ice cream).
The reality is we can change. We can change ourselves. We can change our minds. We can change our hearts…and therefore the universe changes.” — Actor and activist Richard Gere from Project Happiness
Hader Al Mosawi, a personal growth enthusiast and blogger from personalgrowthmap.com describes two ways of changing habits without really trying. For some, thinking about how to simply move forward is far more attractive than diving into change head first. According to Mosawi, taking micro bites out of change might include what he calls half-habits and timeless habits.
He describes these:
Half Habits: For all the habits you intend on adopting, instead of focusing on the destination (forming the new habit fully), think of the next step you can take in the direction of these habits and make a slight adjustment to adopting these half habits.
If you want to drink more water and less soda, fill a water bottle, start sipping and don’t leave home without it. The taste of the soda will gradually interest you less.
Timeless Habits: Come up with ways you can make simple changes to what you eat, how you behave, etc. that can bring about positive results in your life, without needing to free up any time on your schedule to form these new habits.
It doesn’t have to take more time to eat well. Drink unsweetened iced tea instead of iced coffee sometimes. Eat an apple instead of apple juice. Try spreading plant-based avocado on your sandwich instead of egg-based mayonnaise.
People like to say they can’t change as it relates to certain habits in their lives, whether it’s overeating certain foods, compulsively working out to the exclusion of adequate rest and repair, or not moving enough in daily life, or handling emotionally charged situations with a lack of self-control. In truth, these behaviors can be altered if we have a plan. Without one, changing our ways is sometimes easier to ignore.
A wise man likened the game of checkers to guidelines for growth in life. Apply these guidelines to eating more plant-based foods at meals.
Here are the rules: (1) you may only move forward, never backward (keep moving ahead!); (2) You can only move forward one step at a time; and (3) sometimes it is expedient to give up something in order to gain more.
The reality is we can change.
Stay fueled with plants and prosper.
Photo: Adam Jaime/Unsplash