Is It Embarrassing to Order Dairy Milk at a Coffee Shop? Gen Z Thinks So
Gen Z is worried about the planet. Younger generations born into a world concerned about the climate crisis are left with no option but to take action into their own hands. Young consumers worldwide have shifted to plant-based and sustainable lifestyles to help combat the worsening climate crisis. Now, nearly half (49 percent) of Gen Z consumers feel ashamed while ordering dairy milk in public, proving that dairy shame is real.
Conducted by U.K.-based dairy cooperative Arla, the data signifies a drastic shift in consumer interests as dairy increasingly falls out of favor with younger generations. Arla – a coalition that includes 12,000 farmers in Europe – collected this data in an effort to convince these cohorts to return to dairy products. The study, however, reveals the extent of Gen Z’s concerns regarding the climate crisis.
“Nearly half (49 percent) felt ashamed to order dairy in public in front of their peers,” the Arla press release states. “Although the data showed that 70 percent of Gen Z would prefer to continue to drink dairy, an alarming 57 percent plan to give it up in the next year. Almost a third (29 percent) even admitted to only ordering dairy alternatives when in public, reverting to their favored choice of dairy when in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
“The research carried out by dairy cooperative, Arla, highlights the need to balance the conversation when it comes to food and the health of our planet. Three quarters (75 percent) of the UK are concerned for the future of the world we live in. But the rise in cancel culture is playing too much of an influence in the way that we make decisions relating to our diets.”
Arla intends to promote its “don’t cancel the cow” campaign with these polls, but Gen Z’s shameful feelings likely stem from animal agriculture’s negative impacts on the planet. Current estimates suggest that 87.5 percent of Gen Z is worried about the environment.
This worry coincides with the rise of the climatarian – a person that prioritizes sustainability when shopping for food, clothing, and more. Currently, 55 percent of all consumers shop with sustainability in mind, especially among Millenial and Gen Z shoppers.
The Value of Plant-Based Food
Despite Arla’s attempts to attract younger generations to dairy, the collective is attempting to introduce plant-based products to its brands. The world is increasingly concerned with sustainability, motivating Arla to launch JÖRĐ in 2020, a brand that features several oat milk-based milk alternatives including Oat, Oat & Barley, and Oat & Hemp. The coalition also intends to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – an especially difficult task with cow-derived methane – and hopes JÖRĐ can help meet these goals.
“At Arla, we are committed to deliver in the plant-based category. We have the willingness and the capability to serve what the consumers desire—both in the dairy and plant-based categories—and we believe that the JÖRĐ-brand and our natural oat drinks meet these expectations,” Hanne Søndergaard, Executive Vice President for Global Marketing and Innovation in Arla, said in a statement. “The three plant drinks are made with organic and Nordic ingredients and contain up to 50-percent more oat than current market leaders. Parameters that have tested very well with the consumers.”
Climate Crisis Hits Mainstream
Though Arla claims the “shame” Gen Z feels stems from cancel culture and the internet, it is likely influenced by the worsening environmental conditions, especially in recent years. Extreme weather events cost the U.S. an unprecedented $145 billion of damage last year, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). With hundreds of lives lost and environmental disasters rampant, the UN’s climate report has placed meat and dairy industries in the hot seat, asserting the link between the two is undeniable.
To prevent climate change, meat and dairy consumption must be significantly curbed. At the UN Climate Change Conference last year, eight countries announced that they pledged to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, which is only possible by reducing cattle livestock. The coalition claimed that cutting methane is the “single most effective strategy in reducing global warming."
Producing cow’s milk is significantly more taxing to the environment when compared to plant-based counterparts. The animal-based production produces three times as much greenhouse gas emissions; wastes two to twenty times as much water; and requires ten times as much land. Animal agriculture (meat and dairy) accounts for more than 60 percent of food-related greenhouse gases.
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