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Wildeat takes root: Young Chinese embrace outdoor dining trend

By Xu Zhesheng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-05-29 22:42

Capitalizing on the growing desire to escape urban pressures, young Chinese are flocking to a new trend — "wildeat," or dining outdoors.

This burgeoning movement emphasizes enjoying meals in natural settings, from parks and mountains to rooftops and balconies. Social media buzz fuels the trend, with posts on platforms like Xiaohongshu and Douyin exceeding 10,000 and video views surpassing 20 million.

Wildeat prioritizes simplicity and spontaneity. Unlike camping or picnicking, it requires no specialized equipment or elaborate meal prep. A home-cooked hotpot with friends in nature, a quick lunch break on a park bench, or even office snacks enjoyed outdoors all qualify as wildeat.

Beijing hiker and camper Xu Xin initially found the trend puzzling. For her, the challenge of mountaintop meals adds to the experience. However, she recognizes wildeat's appeal for those with less time or energy. "Even a simple meal amidst nature can be special," she says.

Li Yue and her friends in Beijing have embraced wildeat as a regular weekend activity in Chaoyang Park. "It's about being outdoors and unleashing your inner self," Li says. She appreciates wildeat's convenience compared to camping's setup and teardown. Li has sold most of her camping gear, opting for a more portable approach with a mat, tablecloth, and an inflatable sofa. Their wildeat outings have surpassed their camping frequency in recent months, with over 20 experiences compared to less than five camping trips.

Wildeat joins other outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and cycling as ways for urban youth to de-stress. This trend reflects a broader movement among younger generations who seek budget-friendly escapes, including tree-hugging, short walks, city exploration, scenic bus rides, and meditation retreats.

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