Optimistic. Success-driven. Collaborative. Lifestyle-centered. Inclusive. Determined. Self-reliant.
Sound familiar? If you are a Millennial (born between early 80s to early 90s) then these descriptors probably speak to you. They definitely speak to me.
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Although they are better educated, more techno-savvy, and quicker to adapt than those who have come before them, they refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards and time-honored institutions. Instead, they boldly ask, ‘Why?’”
— Eric Chester from “Employing Generation Why?”
We Millennials, or “Generation Why?”, are coming into our prime. We’re beginning to rival Baby Boomers for spending power. We are a generation of skeptics- skeptical about the motives of “big business”. We’d rather buy our produce at the farmer’s market than at a Wal-Mart Superstore. We often blame the generations before us for the environmental and healthcare crises we are in. We believe we hold the keys- that with our higher education and tech-savviness we can fix what is broken in our world.
This is what I love most about Millennials. We refuse to accept things as they are, and because of that we are reshaping the world- especially the oh-so-important world of food.
1 in 10 Millennials call themselves “vegans” and a huge number of us eat a “flexitarian” diet (animal-based foods occasionally). Why is this? Because we see how conventional farming practices and the Standard American Diet are destroying the Earth and the health of older generations. We may have grown up on Pepsi, Kool-Aid and Pop-Tarts, but we are much wiser now. We aren’t afraid to pay a little extra at farm-to-table restaurants and for locally grown produce because we see the value (and the power) in it.
For better or for worse, companies are starting to cater to us. They are mainly catering to our weaknesses, our soft spots. One of those weaknesses? Many of us don’t know how to cook. Egg-o waffles, Lunchables, and Hamburger Helper didn’t equip us with any culinary skills (let alone plant-based culinary skills) beyond operating the microwave and following instructions on a cardboard box. This gap in a Millennial’s otherwise well-equipped self-reliance worries me. Is this why every fast-casual restaurant now offers a vegetarian option, and why so many companies are racing to dominate the healthy meal delivery industry? Don’t get me wrong- I love Chipotle’s sofritas as much as the next Millennial, but I don’t think that outsourcing cooking will solve our problems. It makes us dependent instead of independent, and how is this any different than our parents’ dependency on fast food and packaged foods to feed their families?
I think plant-based cooking is part of the solution. It has certainly been a solution for us- for our health, budget, and self-reliance. Through cooking, we “vote” for what we believe in and change the world one meal at a time. That sounds grandiose… unless you’re an optimistic Millennial like me.
Are you a Millennial? If so, are you confident in the kitchen or do you outsource your cooking?What plant-based cooking skills would help you feel more kitchen confident?