The world is changing at dizzying speed, in some things more than in others. And one striking area that is seeing drastic changes as never before, is the sphere of food. That is no small feat, as American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead would agree. She once said, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
The change appears to be significant and extensive, with a meat-eating world looking for sustainable alternatives. Studies indicate that by 2020, vegetables will, to a large extent, replace meat in the global diet, leading to a healthier and more sustainable life.
Traditionally, vegetables have not been viewed as tasty entrees or fun-filled nibbles. And so, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, only 6% of Americans eat the recommended serving of two and a half cups of vegetables a day. Pre-teens and teens eat even less quantities of vegetables. In 2010, global meat consumption exceeded 30 million tonnes. Furthermore, as the Economist reports, the combined global total of chickens (19 billion), cows (1.5 billion), pigs (1 billion) and sheep (1 billion) outnumbered humans by three to one. Added to this, Americans are the biggest meat eaters in the world, consuming on average, 270.2 pounds of red meat a year. This also makes Americans the biggest high-risk community for developing cancer. When the World Health Organization linked processed foods like bacon and ham to cancer, the meat-eating populations of the world were suddenly shocked into realizing the adverse impact of seeking pure culinary delight over health.
Thus, in recent times, there is a definite global shift away from eating meat. At least 70% of the global population appears to be either cutting down on meat or avoiding meat totally. This trend was noted in a report by GlobalData, a company focused on data and analytics, linked to 4,000 of the world’s largest companies.
This change has come about mostly through the abiding millennial passion for sustainable nutrition. Millennials being the largest economically actively community today, they are at the forefront of dictating what makes for healthy eating.
As millennials distance themselves from eating meat, the movement to eat more plants has spread across the continents. Mugatu from Zoolander, said, “Plants are so hot right now.”
Apart from consumer preference, there is also the upward spiral of global population which will make meat-eating for all unsustainable. The current 7.6 billion global population, will, according to UN statistics, reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050.
With Millennials demonstrating time and again that they care about food, they also care about the environment that supplies the food. From companies to entire nations, from athletes to celebrities, Millennials are encouraging and supporting the increasing trend to eat more plant-based food, including nuts and herbs. US football star, Tom Brady, who eats mostly plant-based food, said, “Eating meals like these is what has helped me stay at the top of my game.” Nestle, among the world’s largest food makers, believes vegetarian “is here to stay and amplify.”
It is amazing that traditionally meat-eating nations, Germany, for instance, are leading the vegan revolution. Bratwurst sausage and a tender schnitzel, both made of veal, pork or beef, sometimes chicken, is being transformed into meat-free products. Europe’s first vegan supermarket chain Veganz, opened in the German capital of Berlin in 2011.
Even though meat-eaters are still around, things are changing for sure in global cuisine. As American celebrity chef, Bobby Flay, said, “Go vegetable heavy. Reverse the psychology of our plate by making meat the side dish and vegetables the main course.”