Gen-Z is not a generation of science doubters. Skeptics and investigators, absolutely – but not deniers.
So they overwhelmingly believe that humans are the main driving force behind climate change.
They know that the consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation, and gross consumer and corporate waste are hurting the planet and could soon cause irreversible damage.
But meat consumption is one area where a specific corporate lobby has efficiently kept them in the dark.
The University of Sydney recently released a study showing that only 1/3 of Gen-Z members understand how much impact livestock and meat consumption are contributing to carbon emissions.
When asked about the main contributors to climate change, 85% of Gen-Z respondents stated that “coal, fossil fuels, and other unsustainable forms of energy” contributed the most.
59% said deforestation and biodiversity loss contributed the most, 58% said plastic, trash, and food waste contributed the most, 55% said that consumption and lifestyle practices contributed the most, 54% said transportation contributed the most, 53% said large industry (corporate impact) contributed the most, and 45% said it was global population growth.
However, only 38% believe that livestock and agriculture are the most significant contributors, which include meat consumption and unsustainable animal farming practices.
But of course, the UN has estimated that agricultural deforestation has led to nearly 90% of the world’s deforestation, which would put our drive to increase meat consumption right up there with the top driver of climate change – in a roundabout way.
Is it a mistake that this information isn’t openly linked for Gen-Z to understand? No.
The agricultural lobby is a powerful force in the US. Any time activist groups try to push back; agricultural lobbyists pull out the old “Farmers keep the country alive” trump card.
Lead researcher Dr. Diana Bogueva said of the study, “Young people will be the most impacted by climate change, and already they are paying the price for historical emissions. A steep reduction in emissions will be required to curb climate change, so our future decision-makers must understand which activities contribute most and make informed choices.”
Gen-Z has thus far proven less involved in awareness of food provenance (where their food comes from) than their older peers. Bogueva explains, “There is a clear disconnect at play – while global warming is high on the Gen-Z radar, the nexus between climate change and food is yet to be properly understood by young [people].”
The researchers suggested that a plant-based or flexitarian diet is a good start toward curbing global emissions and added, “Without urgent changes to Generation Z’s food choices, now and in the future, meat consumption and livestock production will continue to drive global emissions, and I don’t think that’s a future people want.”