Meeting Mentor Magazine

November 2019

One Easy Way to Attract More Millennials to Your Meetings

Do you have to go meatless to attract millennials to your meetings? Maybe not entirely, but it is definitely time to give the vegetarian side of the table more attention, suggests a study from YouGov and Whole Foods Market that came out just in time for October, also known as Vegetarian Awareness Month.

With 63 percent of millennials looking to get more plant-based food into their diet, this generation is part of a growing trend: Almost a fifth of the U.S. population either identifies as vegetarian or is interested in going veggie at least part time (7.3 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively, according to the Vegetarian Times). And the trend definitely follows generational lines. According to a recent article in The New York Times, just 1 percent of baby boomers say they are vegetarian, compared to 4 percent of Gen Xers and 12 percent of millennials.

So yes, ensuring that you have something enticing for the vegans, vegetarians and veggie-wannabes is just as important as ensuring you have options that are gluten-free and keto-diet-friendly and adhere to religious requirements for those who keep kosher and halal. And the younger your audience skews, the more important it is going to be.

Part of the interest among millennials is that they increasingly fall into the category of climatarians, or those who make food choices based on the carbon footprint involved in getting that bacon or bran muffin to the breakfast buffet. According to the YouGov/Whole Foods survey, 60 percent of millennials track how their food choices affect the environment, and almost two-thirds pay close attention to how their food is sourced.

So talk with your chef about any farm-to-table initiatives your meeting venue offers, and let attendees know just how locally your food and beverage (F&B) is sourced. And if it’s not locally sourced, be ready to explain how the venue works to reduce the environmental impact of its F&B offerings, both in sourcing and in dealing with leftover banquet food in a way that lessens its burden on the locale and/or goes toward feeding local in-need populations.

Half of the millennials surveyed in the YouGov/Whole Foods survey said they make packaging part of the decision-making process when it comes to F&B, and more than half are choosing organic food products at the grocery store — two things they also will likely pay attention to at meetings and events. They also are looking to eat more unprocessed foods, so just throwing an Impossible Burger into the mix may not be enough to satisfy their appetites.

But while having meat-free and vegan, locally sourced, environmentally friendly F&B options is important to your growing millennial meeting contingent, they aren’t as rigid about it as vegans or vegetarians in older generations may be. In addition to being climatarians, millennials also tend to be more flexitarian than vegan, meaning they want to include more plant-based food in their diets, but they are less dogmatic about it than their elders. According to the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies, “They are more apt to be adaptable and curious, and exploratory and fluid. Same thing with their diet preferences: They prefer not to box themselves in with a particular diet label, at least while they are finding their way.” — Sue Pelletier

 

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