Despite an increased consumer interest in health, nutrition and ingredient transparency, Americans are still ignoring one of the easiest ways to live a healthier lifestyle: eating their vegetables. In celebration of National Eat Your Vegetables Day, June 17, SUBWAY® Restaurants commissioned a survey that found that the majority of Americans (84 percent) aren't meeting the USDA recommended minimum number of daily vegetable servings (four servings / two cups). Perhaps more troubling is that 47 percent claimed that "nothing" prevents them from eating more vegetables, despite revealing that "overall health benefits" are their top motivation for vegetable consumption (70 percent), among those who ever eat vegetables.
"National Eat Your Vegetables Day shouldn't be limited to just one day on the calendar for consumers to eat their vegetables – it's something that everyone has heard since they were a child" said Lanette Kovachi, MS, RD, Global Dietitian, SUBWAY. "As a registered dietician, it's encouraging that consumers have taken an increased interest in their own health and nutrition, but clear that there is more work to do to get people to eat more vegetables."
"We commend SUBWAY Restaurants' efforts to encourage consumers to eat more vegetables and promote healthier eating," said Kristen Stevens, COO, Produce for Better Health Foundation. "The findings of the National Eat Your Vegetable's Day survey further draws attention to the need for Americans to incorporate vegetables into their diet as disclosed in our annual "State of the Plate" report. The first step in changing behaviors is creating awareness and driving discussion to help educate consumers on the various health benefits of eating more vegetables and how to eat more of them."
The SUBWAY National Eat Your Vegetables Day survey examined the current state of vegetable consumption by American consumers, including number of servings eaten daily, favorite vegetables, excuses, motivations and consumption meal time. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SUBWAY Restaurants from June 4 to 8, 2015, among 2,019 American adults ages 18 and older.
Millennial lead the way, but why?
While the average American consumer only eats 2.3 servings of vegetables per day, millennials (age 18-34) consume more vegetables than any other generation, averaging almost a half serving more per day (2.7 servings). Further, the number of millennials who meet the minimum recommendation of four servings per day is the highest of any age group (22 percent).
But why are millennials eating more vegetables? Survey results reveal personal appearance being a key motivator of vegetable consumption. Of millennial adults who ever eat vegetables, 45 percent who ever eat vegetables are more likely to eat vegetables so they can "look better" as compared to those ages 35+ (26 percent). Millennials are also more likely to eat vegetables to lose weight (56 percent) than those 35+ (39 percent).
"The American diet has traditionally lagged in prioritizing vegetables as a staple of their diet; however, it is encouraging that the youngest generation is slowly bucking the trend," said Kovachi. "The millennial generation is more self-aware than previous generations due to their social, photo driven culture, so "looking better" is a natural motivator. But the truth is nutrient-rich vegetable consumption truly does have positive physiological effects, including a healthier-looking complexion, assisting in weight control, enhancing the immune system and prevention of chronic disease."
America's Favorite Vegetables
- Tomatoes and Lettuce (both 65 Percent)
- Carrots (62 percent)
- Cucumbers (56 percent)
- Onions (53 percent)
- Spinach (51 percent)
- Peppers (47 percent)
- Avocados (44 percent)