More than 40% of millennials changed what they eat because it’s better for the environment

4 min readSep 5, 2019


Commissioned by vegetarian and plant-based food producer Sweet Earth Foods and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found that millennials’ relationship to food is unique from that of previous generations. (Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash)

Millennials devote about a month and a half per year to food — the equivalent of 1,140 hours — time spent meal-prepping and cooking to eating out, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 millennials looked at the trends and spends for millennial diets, examining their tastes and must-haves when it comes to food.

Results found that millennials spend $2,242 at the grocery store and $1,672 dining out over the course of a year — averaging $187 and $139 per month, respectively — and they also try an average of 46 new foods.

Commissioned by vegetarian and plant-based food producer Sweet Earth Foods and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found that millennials’ relationship to food is unique from that of previous generations, as almost six in 10 millennials (57 percent) currently subscribe to a special diet — such as plant-based, Keto, vegan or Whole 30.

For those who follow a special diet, 44 percent do so because it’s better for the environment, while 37 percent say it’s more ethical.

Millennials report making 17 tweaks or changes to their diet per year, with the top changes found to be eating healthier foods (46 percent), avoiding sugar/carbs (41 percent) and focusing more on plant-based foods (36 percent).

That’s in addition to a third (34 percent) who have cut down on their meat consumption.

A year in food for millennials also includes 41 dinner parties and eating out 90 times — split evenly between friends and with dates.

Still, not all millennials are choosing to eat out. Some are held back from eating out more often because of a lack of time (37 percent) or because of a lack of money (37 percent), while 42 percent of millennials report eating healthier when they cook for themselves.

“With millennials devoting so much time to food and following special diets, we understand the importance of creating tasty, nutritious and convenient plant-based options,” said Kelly Swette, CEO and Co-Founder of Sweet Earth.

Three-quarters (74 percent) of those on a special diet find it more difficult to eat at restaurants — and 59 percent of respondents feel like there’s judgment to ordering and buying foods that subscribe to a special diet.

When millennials prepare meals at home, they find food inspiration from a variety of sources, with their friends (49 percent), parents (46 percent) and cookbooks (44 percent) in the top three — beating out more modern methods of finding recommendations, such as social media.

But while social media might not be where millennials are finding their food inspiration, respondents are using it for other things.

Seven in 10 (69 percent) have posted photos of their food to social media in the past year; of those, 26 percent have taken 10 or more photos to get one that’s social media worthy.

And when it comes to what they eat, millennials’ top priorities are cost (48 percent), having it be full of nutrients (46 percent) and no artificial additives in their food (40 percent).

This is followed by organic food (39 percent) and having it be plant-based (37 percent).

“Finding delicious plant-based food should be easy and affordable,” added Swette added. “Bonus points if it’s easy to prepare and good for the environment. We know millennials are smart and health-conscious and we think their changing tastes reflect our mission of sustaining the land and a healthy body, and cultivating a curious mind and palate.”


  1. Healthier for my body 67 percent
  2. Working to lose weight 53 percent
  3. Concerns about health problems/illnesses 48 percent
  4. Better for the environment/more sustainable 44 percent
  5. More ethical 37 percent


  1. Tried to eat healthier foods 46 percent
  2. Avoided sugar/carbs 41 percent
  3. Focused more on plant-based foods 36 percent
  4. Had alcohol-free weeks or months 34 percent
  5. Cut down on my meat consumption 34 percent


  • $2,242 spent at the grocery store and $1,672 spent at restaurants (eating out, delivery, etc.)
  • 17 tweaks or changes to their diet
  • 183 hours purchasing food, 238 hours prepping and planning meals, 326 hours cooking, 160 hours deciding where to eat and 233 hours eating food
  • 46 new foods tried and 47 photos posted on social media
  • 90 meals out (with friends or a date), 53 frozen meals, 41 dinner parties

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