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Gen Z is going all-in for vegan

by John Wheeler
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    Gen Z’s fondness for vegan cuisine is an opportunity that restaurants, grocery chains and online food-delivery platforms alike can’t afford to miss out on.


    Veganism isn’t the niche lifestyle it once was. Today, it’s a mainstream movement across the world — and that’s in no small part due to Gen Z’s enthusiasm for greens, tofu and seitan. Indeed, one study finds that 44 percent of Gen Zers say that “being vegan is cooler than smoking.”

    Not too bad for a term that only first saw use in 1944, right? Given all the rising demand for vegan cuisine, it would be a wise move on the part of restaurants, grocery chains and online food-delivery platforms across the world to “embrace the V” when catering to Gen Z.

    Gen Z… or… Gen V?

    Gen Z’s championing of veganism is a phenomenon that knows no regional bounds or borders. Findings in the United States point to 79 percent of Gen Zers being “eager to go meatless” a few times a week, with 60 percent happily reporting they’re ready to make base their diets on more “plant-forward foods.” 

    America hardly stands alone. A study by the UK’s BOL Foods finds veganism is skyrocketing in popularity among European Zers, with a quarter of 18-24 year olds reporting that they’ve become vegan over the last year, and 35 percent stating that they’re actively seeking out a “vegan partner” for dating.

    To make a long story short, it’s the business opportunity of a lifetime for restaurants, grocery chains and online food-delivery platforms: Gen Z’s craving for vegan is reshaping the food industry for keeps. By 2025, meat alternatives like seitan and tofu will translate into a $7.5 billion global market, to name just one example. Brands that make the conscious decision to cater to Gen Z’s healthful instincts will make a killing (pun intended maybe slightly).

    Will veganism grow bigger than burgers?

    So far, it hasn’t been the case — but there’s always the possibility. A 2018 report from Mintel titled simply “Burger and Chicken Restaurants” warns that "The biggest threat to the popularity of burger and chicken is the trend of consumers cutting back on eating meat.”

    Restaurants, grocery chains and digital food-service platforms alike will have to adapt themselves to the new reality: Veganism is in high, high demand — and it’s here to stay because of Gen Z. Time for the food industry to turn its menus to a brand-new leaf.


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