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  • Susan

Meat life crisis!

New research, commissioned by oat drink company Oatly, has found that older men (aged 45 to 75) in the UK are the most resistant, when it comes to changing their diet to benefit the environment.

The new study shone a light on some of the key reasons for the generation gap in consuming a more plant based diet. Only 4 in 10 older men (37%) thought that meat had a big impact on the environment, and less than a third (31%) the same for milk from dairy.

The study showed, young adults (aged 16 to 24) were taking on the role of responsibility, with over half (54%) agreeing that they are willing to change their diet to benefit the environment, compared with less than a third (31%) of older men.

The research was commissioned by Oatly as part of its ‘Help-Dad’ campaign – which aims to help young people talk with their parents and older generations about the climate and how the food choices we make affect the health of the planet.

The research indicates a generational disparity in understanding the impact our food and drink choices have on the environment.

Four in five (78%) older men drink dairy milk every, or most days, compared to only 51% of young adults. A fifth (20%) of young adults had actually decreased their milk consumption in the last 12 months, and a third (34%) had increased their consumption of plant based alternatives to milk.

Three quarters of older men (74%) said they were concerned about the environment, such as climate change or damage to the environment. Six in 10 (59%) said they could have a positive impact on the planet through their wider lifestyle, including things like recycling and travel. Yet, a third (35%) said they would not be willing to change their diet to benefit the environment, and a quarter (24%) said they didn’t care about the impact of their diet on the environment.

The research indicates tradition, habits and values play a role in this. Three quarters (75%) of older men agree that eating meat/dairy is part of their way of life. And despite older men saying that ‘being open minded’ was one of the most important values in life – over two-thirds (67%) never purposely eat a vegan meal, or consciously limit their meat intake (66%) and half (51%) never eat a vegetarian meal.

The research indicated that talking about the environment and climate issues was less common for older men – and a potential solution for the future.

Whereas nearly half (43%) of young adults said they sometimes give advice to friends and family about reducing their impact on the environment, only 17% of older men did the same.

A third (31%) of older men sought advice from a parent, child, family member or friend when it came to making energy saving home improvements – a quarter (24%) about being careful with finances, and 23% about recycling.

However, just 7% had sought advice about the impact of their diet on the environment.

This is despite a quarter (25%) of young adults having offered advice to a parent, child, family member or friend about the impact of their diets on the environment. A third (34%) of young adults sought advice about the environment for themselves, suggesting the planet and positive discussion around it is in good hands.

Tim Harkness, leading psychologist and author of ‘The 10 Rules Of Talking’, commented on the findings, saying: ‘Switching roles and having ‘The Talk’ with your dad about something that you would like him to change is difficult. Talking to dad about changing his diet to save the planet is the kind of conversation where stakes are high and opinions vary. But you can improve your chances of success.

‘When you are talking to your dad about changing his diet to save the planet, you will need to do four things. First, you will need to start the conversation well. Consider your dad’s perspective and logic. Second, talk factually. Equip yourself with credible information. Third, talk from the heart. Show how change matters. And fourth, you will need to motivate your dad to make a commitment to change. These are techniques I discuss in more detail in my book ‘10 Rules for Talking’.

‘The climate crisis is something that can only be solved collectively. We can all help. We can all make small changes. Talking to your dad about diet is one place to start.’

Michael Lee, creative director at Oatly, commented: ‘At Oatly, like everyone else, we are aware that the world is in the midst of a climate crisis, and we humans have to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half, before scientists say we go past the point of no return. We thought to ourselves – this is such an important issue. So why aren’t people, particularly older men, discussing it more? We know the idea of pouring liquified oats over your morning cereal might be pretty normal for climate conscious youth, but it can seem pretty weird to dads – particularly those that have been drinking milk all of their life. We want to help make that conversation easier – that is why we have launched the campaign as a helpful guide for those looking to have ‘The Talk’ with their dad, or someone else who needs it.’


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