Millennials get a lot of grief from older generations for being selfish and lazy, but those descriptors aren’t actually fair. In fact, millennials are just as thoughtful and hardworking as previous generations if not more so; they just have different priorities and different methods for achieving their goals.
Let’s take a look at some of the myriad ways that millennials are changing the world for the better.
Whether you eat meat or not, you’ve undoubtedly heard how bad the commercial livestock industry is for the environment and for the animals. Human health concerns and animal welfare issues aside, commercial livestock farming is terrible for the environment and much less efficient than crop farming.
For one thing, it produces far less food and nutritional content per acre than plant-based foods. According to a report by the Humane Party, “plant-based agriculture grows 512% more pounds of food than animal-based agriculture on 69% of the mass of land that animal-based agriculture uses.”
It’s also a less efficient food source because it takes 2.5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. Pork is even worse, at 3 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of pork. And if you compare calories, pork has only 12% more calories per pound than whole wheat bread. Granted, meat has more than twice the protein content of grain, but there are other plant-based protein sources like beans that not only provide plenty of protein but also contain fiber and antioxidants, which meat does not.
Animal products also have a larger water consumption per ton of product than crops as well as a larger water footprint per calorie produced. Beef requires twenty times more water per calorie produced than cereals or starchy root vegetables! As far as protein, the production per gram of protein is about 1.5 times larger for milk, eggs, and chicken than for pulses like beans and lentils, and about 6 times larger for beef than lentils. With water shortages that are worsening yearly in many key farming areas, it’s more critical than ever that we switch to methods of food production that conserve as much water as possible.
There’s no question that meat production is damaging to our environment, and millennials are much more likely than gen Xers and baby boomers to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. According to research by YouGov, 22% of millennials have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, as opposed to just 13% of gen Xers and 11% of baby boomers. 16% of millennials have gone vegan at some point, versus just 7% of gen X and 8% of baby boomers. Their research also showed that 45% of millennials agree with the statement “I’m actively trying to reduce my meat consumption”, 55% agree with the statement “I’m open to substituting meat/dairy products with healthy alternatives” and 37% agree with the statement “A meatless diet is the healthier option.”
Millennials are also incredibly eco-conscious. While boomers can boast the title of “Most Likely to Recycle” with 43% saying they always recycle versus 33% of millennials, there are some key environmental issues where millennials either run toe-to-toe with other generations or even surpass them.
For example, millennials are more likely than boomers or gen Xers to:
Millennials are much more driven by experiences over possessions than previous generations. They are passionate about minimalism, choosing a simple, quality existence over one driven by the need to flaunt status with flashy cars, huge houses, or designer clothing. They are shunning the materialistic lifestyle to live in vans and tiny homes, to travel more, and to consume less.
Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers across 60 countries and discovered that 84% of millennials expect the brands and retailers they shop with to become more sustainable and are ready to use their wallets to prove it. They want to shop from companies that focus on reducing water waste, reducing carbon emissions, and that care about human rights.
Millennials are also demanding less packaging, more eco-friendly packaging, and even zero packaging alternatives. 73% said they were willing to refrain from purchasing products that are heavily packaged or don’t live up to their ethical and environmental standards. They want to live a zero-waste lifestyle and are willing to do without to support those beliefs.
Millennials are highly sensitive to human rights. They believe in fairness, equity, and equality and shun companies that don’t live up to their standards. Millennials support diversity and champion the rights of:
Not only do they want to know the brands they support are in favor of these same things, but they also want to see it in the company’s branding and messaging.
While Millennials may have gotten a bad rap, they’re actually very conscious of issues like the environment, human rights, animal welfare, and more. So before you judge them, remember that this generation has many wonderful qualities that both previous and younger generations can learn from.
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