Millennials and food: "No sex please, we're hungry..."

Article published on Aug. 11, 2016
Article published on Aug. 11, 2016

New research suggests that Millennials seem to prefer spending time in the kitchen over the bedroom. Is it just another example of how easily distracted we are, or is there a reason we're finding such solace in food? 

It’s often said that the way into someone’s heart is via the stomach. We’ve all heard stories about the aphrodisiac qualities of foods like chocolates, strawberries or oysters, but new research would suggest that of the Seven Deadly Sins, many young people are indulging Gluttony more than Lust.

According to a survey conducted by Eater’s Digest, which polled 12,000 people from 37 countries, 46% of men and 51% of women said that eating is “as pleasurable as sex.” Around 35% of Millennials (people aged 18-34) said that, given the choice between sex and an excellent dinner at a restaurant, they’d choose the dinner – though interestingly, this was almost twice as likely to be the case for women (42%) than men (26%). Now, I’ve had some pretty good meals in my time, but I’ve never been so full that I’ve decided to skip dessert.

Yet it seems that many young people are losing their sweet tooth. The Eater’s Digest survey coincides with the release of another set of data, published last week by a journal called Archives of Sexual Behaviour, which finds that despite their reputation as a so-called “hook-up generation”, Millennials are in fact hooking up less than their parents or grandparents. Around 15% of young people have had no sexual partners since the age of 18, more than double the figure for Generation X (6%).

A recent article in the Washington Post would suggest that Millennials simply don’t have the time for sex – that we’re too busy working or studying, or that we’re too busy being switched on to get turned on. Is our obsession with food just part of the same problem? Are we so busy finding the right Instagram filter for our filet mignon that we’re allowing our plates (and our passions) to go cold?

To me, this argument seems cynical. Instead of looking at it as a case of young people not realising what we’re missing out on, maybe we should be asking ourselves why they’re suddenly so interested in food?

For a start, we’re paying far more attention to the food we eat than ever before. You only need to look at the Eater’s Digest survey to see that we love to experiment with our food, whether that means adding a few spices to a simple mac n’ cheese or trying to put kale in everything. We may roll our eyes at that one friend we have who always goes for the gluten-free option or loudly comments on their own veganism, but we’re increasingly concerned with the food that we put in our bodies.

But perhaps the most important difference between Millennials and previous generations is that, for us, food is far more a social gathering than it once was. More than 57% of us say that we want to slow down more at mealtimes, to enjoy both what’s on our plates and the company of the people we’re eating with. Here at cafébabel, the whole office goes out together once a week to sit in a restaurant and eat a meal together at lunchtime, and it’s a huge part of why we’re such a close-knit community.

That, and the fact that office romances are never a good idea...