Millennials and Gen-Z-ers have something in common with their grandparents: They are both turning to plant-based "flexitarian" diets in record numbers. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, more older consumers are eating plant-forward, sustainable diets than ever before. A new survey out of the United Kingdom found that 54 percent of consumers aged 65 and over are attempting to reduce their meat consumption, a significant shift in consumer behavior. The reasons include health and awareness of the importance of planet-friendly diets.

To conduct the study, the meat alternative brand Dopsu polled 2,000 consumers across the UK to gauge their relationship with meat, dairy, and plant-based alternatives. The data showed that 52 percent of the “over 65” category ate three to four meat-free meals a week – a number shockingly similar to the 57 percent shown by millennials. The study signifies that more than half of all consumers prefer flexitarian diets.

“It’s not just Millennials that are embracing a flexitarian diet, there’s such a broad range of ages now looking to make smart swaps and cut down on meat, the over 65s are leading the way for the rest of us!,” Dopsu spokesperson Abigail Flynn told Plant Based News.

Increase of Flexitarians and Climatarians Worldwide

With international calls for sustainability efforts and growing bodies of research linking good health to plant-based diets, consumers worldwide have started adopting a more plant-forward diet. Despite pushback from older generations and animal agriculture giants, interest in plant-based eating continues to grow among both younger and older generations. Last January, another survey found that one-third of men over 45 would eat more plant-based for the planet – an important figure as many people have begun to alter their diets with the environment in mind.

Over recent years, sustainability efforts and climate crisis warnings have inspired the spread of climatarianism. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a climatarian as "a person who chooses what to eat according to what is least harmful to the environment." Nearly 55 percent of consumers consider sustainability and the planet when grocery shopping.

Older Generations See Major Plant-Based Health Benefits

Other than the increasing worries regarding the climate crisis, many older consumers are being motivated by the health benefits of a plant-based diet. In some cases, a mostly plant-based diet has been found to prolong life expectancy by over 10 years, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine Journal. The study highlights that going halfway plant-based is beneficial, decreasing meat and dairy consumption and replacing those foods with healthy plant-based whole foods.

“A sustained dietary change may give substantial health gains for people of all ages both for optimized and feasible changes,” the study authors wrote in their conclusion. “Gains are reduced substantially with delayed initiation of changes, particularly when approaching the age of 80 years. An increase in the intake of legumes, whole grains, and nuts, and a reduction in the intake of red meat and processed meats, contributed most to these gains.”

The benefits of a plant-based diet help minimize the risk factors of several deadly or chronic diseases. Some research found that adopting a plant-based diet at an early age can help reduce heart disease 30 years later.

This June, one study revealed that plant protein can greatly reduce the risk of frailty in women over 60. The study observed the connection between frailty and plant-based diets, concluding that plant protein lowers the risk by up to 42 percent. This study emphasizes that even marginal increases in plant-based protein, as opposed to animal-based protein, can help older victims curb their risk and symptoms.

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