What kids know about climate change and why they are key to the fight against it
Climate Change: An urgent problem
Nearly two-thirds of people(opens in a new tab) believe that climate change is a global emergency, yet for many years, scientists, policymakers, and consumers have underestimated animal agriculture’s role in driving it. As a result, we aren’t paying enough attention to the most impactful and feasible step we can take today to prevent climate catastrophe: ending the use of animals in food production. A transition to a plant-only diet over the next fifteen years would, on its own, reduce human contributions to global warming by over fifty percent(opens in a new tab) through 2100, with the greatest impact in the next 40 years.
For the sake of personal, public, and planetary health, meat alternatives are already beginning to take permanent hold of the protein industry. Prominent food publishing companies have eliminated beef from their recipes(opens in a new tab); journalists have pushed for more government investment in meat alternatives(opens in a new tab); and NGOs have argued that for the first time in human history, we have an opportunity to produce food more sustainably(opens in a new tab), so wild animal populations can thrive again.
The Global plant-based meat market is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025(opens in a new tab), compared to roughly $7 billion in 2018. And plant-based meat consumption is growing per capita at roughly 30% per year compounded annually, compared to only 0.1% for animal meat.
But we aren’t moving fast enough.
Where plate meets planet
Despite the recent success of meat alternatives, many still don’t understand the “plate to planet connection” and the impact that what we eat has on the planet. A 2014 survey(opens in a new tab) found that 64 percent of respondents identified direct transport emissions as a major contributor to climate change, compared to only 29 percent who singled out meat and dairy production, even though the contribution to overall emissions is almost equal between the two sectors.
The largest survey of public opinion ever conducted on climate change(opens in a new tab), conducted in 2020, showed that only 30% of people surveyed supported the promotion of plant-based diets as a climate policy, and it was the least popular solution of the 18 proposed.
When we researched our first Kids in the Kitchen(opens in a new tab) report in 2019, we found that there was growing awareness of the connection between plate and planet. Younger generations were more inclined to view climate change and biodiversity as priorities and make purchase decisions accordingly. Environmental concerns had moved into the top three reasons for consuming plant-based meat, especially among Gen Z and millennial consumers.
That encouraged us to ask what even younger demographics, like Gen Alpha-z, understand about climate change and their power to change it.
In the spring of 2021, Impossible Foods commissioned an independent, third party strategic research and consulting firm, known for their foundation in kids and family research, to hear from kids directly on the topic of climate change. The survey asked 1,200 nationally representative kids ages 5-18 years old about their knowledge of climate change, biodiversity, and animal agriculture’s impact on the environment. The survey focused on the importance of these issues to respondents, and their willingness to act on them.