Millennials are dieting just like older generations. But their reasons for doing so seem to differ. More Millennials are changing their diets in pursuit of both physical and mental wellness and a desire to reduce their climate footprints, than are members of older generations.
New data from YouGov finds that Millennials are more likely than other generations to say that they have changed their diet in order to improve their mental health (30%) or reduce their impact on the planet (20%).
Millennials (17%) are also more likely than Gen Xers (10%) or Baby Boomers (10%) to say they’ve gone on a diet to accommodate food allergies.
Across generations, over half of US adults say that they’ve gone on a diet to improve their physical health. For Millennials, improving physical health is the most commonly-named incentive for going on a diet. Among members of Generation X and Baby Boomers, losing weight is the most common reason for changing their diets.
Some scientific studies suggest that eating less meat and cutting down on dairy products could help people reduce their impact on the environment. And it seems Millennials may be taking note.
YouGov’s research finds that Millennials (22%) are far more likely than Gen Xers (13%) and Baby Boomers (11%) to say they’ve adopted a vegetarian diet at some point. Similarly, Millennials are also more likely to say they’ve tried a vegan diet: 16% of Millennials have gone vegan at some point, along with 7% of Generation X and 8% of Baby Boomers.
Others are turning to a dairy-free lifestyle. Almost one in five (18%) Millennials has tried a dairy-free diet, which is about twice the number of Gen Xers (7%) and Baby Boomers (9%) who have tried this diet.
A 2019 poll from YouGov’s Daily Agenda found that more than one in five young Americans say they would be willing to eliminate meat from their diet in order to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Among 18-to 24-year-olds, 23 percent said they would do this, along with 22 percent of 25-to 34-year-olds. A plurality (42%) of US adults in the survey said they would be willing to reduce their meat consumption, but would not be willing to eliminate meat from their diets altogether.
Additional data from YouGov Profiles suggests that following an environmentally-conscious diet is important to many millennials.
Data from YouGov Profiles finds that 45 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement “I’m actively trying to reduce my meat consumption.” A majority in the same group (55%) also agree with the statement “I am open to substituting meat/dairy products with healthy alternatives,” while 37 percent go so far as to agree with the statement “A meatless diet is the healthier option.”
According to YouGov’s sustainability segmentation, a measure of where consumers land on the spectrum of beliefs around sustainability, the country’s most engaged environmentalists are more likely to consider a raw diet (i.e. unprocessed, plant-based, organic) compared to the rest of US adults. This segment is also more likely to consider the South Beach, Whole30 and Paleo diets. YouGov’s sustainability segments are based on a dataset that spans five attitudes about sustainability, from skeptic to enthusiast.
Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,241 US adults, which included 391 Millennials, 316 members of Generation X, and 444 Baby Boomers. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (ages 18+). Interviews were conducted online between January 3 - 6, 2020. Total weighted sample for the Daily Agenda question on August 8, 2019, “How willing would you be to eliminate meat from your diet in order to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change?” was 1,501 US adults. Total unweighted sample sizes for YouGov Profiles statements: “I’m actively trying to reduce my meat consumption” was 2,845 Millennials; “I am open to substituting meat/dairy products with healthy alternatives,” was 3,091 Millennials; “A meatless diet is the healthier option,” with 12,059 Millennials. All figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (ages 18+).