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Generation Moderation is leading the great meat retreat

  • A new generation of consumers dubbed ‘Generation Moderation’ holds the key to improving global sustainability, which will ultimately safeguard the survival of the planet.

    Experts at Plate for the Planet have conducted research that found the next generation will become ‘Generation Moderation’ due to their attitudes towards eating and drinking (especially meat) being dramatically different to that of previous generations.

    James Murphy, a social trend analyst and forecaster who conducted the research said: “We found that the younger generation really is culturally in tune with the concept of moderation. To them it’s no longer socially acceptable or amusing to binge drink and eat to excess. Resisting over-indulgence and observing moderation is all about self-respect – keeping their looks and preserving their physiques.”

    The research findings highlight that a less and better approach to meat is becoming more popular among a significant proportion of the population. Whether it’s for environmental or health reasons, younger generations are embracing real alternatives to meat, with nearly half (48%) of 16-19 year olds and 40% of 16-24s agreeing that a meat free diet, or one where we eat less meat, and better meat when we do eat it, is better for the environment as it lowers Carbon emissions.

    The research findings emerge at a time when the high street is starting to respond to consumption changes. For the first time retailers are stocking meat alternatives directly next to their meat equivalents in the food aisles and restaurants are dedicating more space on the menu to meat-free treats. One such outlet who is leading the way, and popular with the next generation in the student heart of Leeds is the Hyde Park Book Club.

    Jack Simpson (36) is the co-founder of Hyde Park Book Club. Together with his business partners Chris Walton (36) and Anthony Smith (37), the trio has created a successful art and event space specialising in meat-alternative meals.

    Jack, who has been an advocate of eating less meat since he was six years old, said: “We offer burgers, hot dogs, wraps and chicken skewers amongst other things – all made meat free.”

    Jack believes Generation Moderation holds the key to food sustainability and is even teaching older generations to broaden their horizons and think differently about food, drink and the environment as a whole.

    “The young people we come into contact with are incredibly savvy when it comes to food and drink. They want to know where everything comes from, how it is sourced and what’s in it. Here at the Book Club we don’t go heavy on the vegetarian thing at all – we’ve created a relaxed atmosphere which is inclusive. We were very careful when we set up late last year not to exclude customers just because everything we offer is meat-free. People of all ages come in to enjoy art and live performances and with that goes quality food. The fact that it isn’t meat is irrelevant and that’s how we like it.

    “We’ve seen first-hand that moderation has really taken hold with the younger generation, which has a different outlook to previous generations towards everything from eating and drinking to politics and globalisation. Technology and the internet have fuelled this further and will continue to do so. In the meantime, businesses like ours have the opportunity to be part of this change, while working with the consumption patterns of the new generation.”

    Claudia Bowler (29) is a designer from County Durham. She started reducing her meat consumption seven years ago and has never looked back.

    She says: “I started cutting down on meat when I was travelling around India in my early twenties and just not eating much of it because it wasn’t readily available. I didn’t miss it that much to be honest. I had the best steak ever when I got back and then haven’t really eaten much meat since. This is in line with how I live my life – I live on a houseboat and shop when I need to, so try to limit the amount of packaged goods I buy.

    “It’s important not to feel like you’re being put in a box because of how you feel. People tend to be wary of anything with an ‘ism’ on the end as they may feel scared they’re committing to something but it really doesn’t have to be like that at all. It’s a conscious choice that’s respectful of the world we live in that’s all. It’s important for everyone to be aware of what they’re consuming – eating and drinking in moderation needn’t be that hard but I appreciate for older generations who have been brought up and educated in a different way, it can be more of a struggle. However, it’s interesting that my parents have changed their own eating habits because of me and reduced the meat in their diet which I would never have anticipated. I haven’t forced it on them either, it’s just something they’ve picked up on.”