Eat your greens: campaign aims to change young adults’ food habits


Following a report that shows only 3% of millennials eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day, Vlam has a launched a healthy eating drive targeting the age group

'Time to eat the way we dress'

A study by Belgium’s national food council shows that 97% of millennials don’t eat the recommended amount of fresh vegetables. Flanders’ Agricultural Marketing Board (Vlam) is aiming to put this right with an online campaign encouraging young adults to eat their greens.

To get the right balance of nutrients, the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living recommends eating 200 grams of vegetables as part of a main evening meal, plus a portion of salad or vegetable soup at lunchtime. Figures from Vlam show that 45% of 18- to 30-year-olds living outside of the family home don’t eat fresh veg every day.

While they may like vegetables and be aware of the health benefits, the problem arises when they leave home and have to shop and cook for themselves. Vlam’s campaign – dubbed Vegetables are the New Sneakers – aims to encourage the age group to make eating and cooking with vegetables a way of life.

Simple solutions

“We’re not just telling young people that they have to eat more vegetables or that they need to be healthier. We don’t want to add more to their to-do lists,” says Vlam’s fruit and veggie co-ordinator, Thaïs Mees. “We’re showing them that cooking with vegetables doesn’t need to take a lot of time, and that there are simple things they can do to speed things up.”

The campaign is entirely online. A report by digital research centre imec in Leuven shows that 75% of 20- to 29-year-olds in Flanders watch online videos every day, so Vlam has created 21 short films to be shown on platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Vice and Spotify.

The videos show solutions to various barriers that young people – and perhaps the not-so-young – might face in eating vegetables more often, such as a lack of time, inspiration or knowledge. They demonstrate, for example, how to cook healthy meals in the microwave, create tasty dips using a blender and make a number of dishes from a single cauliflower.  The campaign website also has a list of five simple ways to make vegetables part of any lifestyle.