‘Menu Anxiety’ Mirrors Sustainability Concerns Among Gen Z, Millennials

3 Mins Read

Recent data indicate that dining decisions are increasingly causing stress for younger Americans, with nearly one-third experiencing ‘menu anxiety’ when ordering at restaurants.

A study of 2,000 adults revealed that 41 percent of Millennials and Generation Z (individuals aged between 18-43) are prone to this anxiety, starkly contrasting with only 15 percent of their older counterparts from Generation X and Baby Boomers — those aged between 44-77.

Menu anxiety

Widespread concern for the environment and sustainability has significantly marked Generation Z. Aided by social media and access to global information, they are acutely aware of climate change and its impacts, sparking a greater interest in sustainable consumption. This consciousness about the planet has been reflected in their dining preferences and anxieties.

gen z eating
Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

This menu anxiety appears to stem from an array of factors, according to the research commissioned by Avocado Green Mattress and conducted by OnePoll. Generation Z and Millennials, the survey noted, often defer their order until they’ve seen their companions’ choices, with 47 percent admitting to doing so, compared to only 30 percent of older participants. Digital habits also play a role, as 24 percent of younger respondents regularly review the restaurant menu online prior to their visit, compared to 15 percent of older participants.

The study also discovered that terms such as ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ on menus significantly influence younger generations’ choices, with 39 percent and 34 percent respectively more likely to opt for such items. Additionally, a commanding 77 percent of younger respondents wish for restaurants to be more transparent about the environmental impact of their offerings, against 58 percent of older participants.

The environment seemed to play a larger role in younger generations’ decisions overall, with 20 percent of them factoring in the ‘environmental impact’, against just 7 percent of older participants. Moreover, 62 percent of Gen Z and millennials are conscious of their meal’s environmental footprint when eating out, compared with only 42 percent of older generations.

“Understanding our environmental impacts shouldn’t just be a younger generation thing,” Hann said. “We should all be pro clean air, pro clean water and pro healthy climate. We’re all responsible for the planet we leave behind for our kids and grandkids.”

A panoply of dining preferences

The research delved deeper than just ordering anxiety. When asked about the decisive factors while ordering food, taste (71 percent) and cost (57 percent) predictably emerged on top. However, the time taken for food preparation (22 percent), messiness of the meal (16 percent), and environmental impact of the food (15 percent) were also considered.

Courtesy Sander Dalhuisen via Unsplash

“Our individual choices matter,” Jessica Hann, Avocado Green’s Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing and Sustainability said in a statement. “From how we eat to how we sleep, our collective decisions are inextricably linked to the health of our communities.”

Research published last spring found 70 percent of Gen Zers say they plan to pursue a vegan diet in the next five years. The main deciding factor in that research was their health more than concerns about the environment.


  • Green Queen Team

    We INFORM. We INSPIRE. We EMPOWER. Founded by serial entrepreneur Sonalie Figueiras in 2011, Green Queen is an award-winning sustainability & impact media platform advocating for social & environmental change in Asia. Our mission is to shift consumer behaviour through our authentic, original and ground-breaking content.

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