Getting your dad to eat more healthy plant-based foods used to mean sneaking him a meatless meal and hoping he wouldn’t notice. But a new survey reveals that less than one-third of men over 45 are willing to change their diet to benefit the planet, whereas half of Millenials and Gen-Zers are open to more apt to make the switch.

The survey was done In the UK, where nearly 90 percent of the population lives in areas that have been declared a climate emergency by local authorities. Even so, young adults were more willing to take on the role of responsibility for future climate impact by switching to a plant-based diet. The new research, commissioned by the popular brand Oatly, revealed that men between the ages of 45 and 75 have very different views about welcoming plant-based foods into their diet than younger consumers, aged 16 to 24.

Climate change is second only to health as a motivation for eating a plant-based diet

Perhaps more surprisingly, is that even one-third of men over 45 said they would consider eating a more plant-based diet for the sake of the planet, which is a significant number of consumers. In past surveys, the number one reason people give for switching to a more plant-based diet is for health considerations, but the number of people eating plant-based for the environment is growing. While the Oatly survey only asked about environmental motivations, health has been found to be the number one driver of plant-based diets both in the UK and the US.

“At Oatly, like everyone else, we’re 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?" said Creative Director at Oatly,  Michael Lee.

"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 who have been drinking milk all of their life. We want to help make that conversation easier. That’s why we’ve launched the campaign as a helpful guide for those looking to have ‘the talk’ with their dad, or someone else who needs it,” Lee added.

Younger generations are changing their diets to benefit the environment whereas older men are hesitant either because they choose not to make the switch, or because they don't see a connection between the two, the survey found. Only 4 in 10 men over 45 surveyed thought that meat had a significant impact on the environment, whereas fewer than a third the same was true for dairy-based milk.

Younger generations, under 45 have become increasingly aware of how their dietary choices impact the planet, since animal agriculture has been shown to be an enormous contributor to greenhouse gases, and rainforests are being burned down to make more room for farming.  As the climate crisis continues to worsen, however, the generational divide over willingness to try new foods or make the switch to more plant-based foods also grows wider. This doesn't mean older generations aren't eating plant foods, but they are more likely to do add plant-based foods to their plate to fight heart disease and prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other lifestyle ailments that have been linked to eating a meat-heavy diet.

For the men surveyed, the connection between climate change and meat is not clear

For 75% of older men, meat and dairy are an important part of their diet and 78% consume dairy every day or most days of the week. Out of the men surveyed, one-third said they would not be willing to change their diet to benefit the environment, and a quarter said they didn’t care about the impact of their diet on the environment.

The resistance to eating more plant-based doesn't mean they aren't concerned about the environment: 70% of respondents said they were concerned about climate change or damage to the environment and are making other efforts to benefit the planet such as recycling.

Despite older men saying that ‘being open-minded’ was one of the most important values in life, 67% never purposely eat a vegan meal, 66% would never consciously limit their meat intake and 51% would never eat a vegetarian meal.

"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.

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," Tim Harkness, leading Psychologist and author of ‘The 10 Rules Of Talking’ said in a press release.

A simple way to help your dad eat plant-based is using a meal plan or guide that will help both of you do it together. Starting small with a seven-day plan, such as the Beginner's Guide to Going Plant-Based, will show him how easy the lifestyle switch is. For more resources on starting a plant-based diet, check out Smoothie of the Day, 28 Day Plant-Based Meal Plan and Two Week Clean Eating Plan.

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 results indicate tradition, habits, and values play a role in this.

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