Goodbye Citywalk, Hello Wildeat — How Chinese Gen Z Are Rebranding Picnics

A new name is making outdoor eating the hottest trend for young Chinese

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3:13 AM HKT, Tue May 7, 2024 1 mins read

Ever shared some snacks with friends on a blanket in a park? Or taken a sandwich on a hike? Well, without realizing it you’ve participated in one of the latest trends for Chinese youth, complete with its own new name: “wildeat.” But whether the hashtag is just giving picnics a Xiaohongshu makeover or offering an entirely new way to connect food and nature remains to be seen.

The new concept involves consuming food in natural settings. Some Xiaohongshu influencers say they’re aiming to reconnect with the wild state of early human ancestors by using unaltered ingredients and simple tools like branches and hands. However, for others, “wildeat” is simply about having a picnic in a natural setting. No matter what their approach, netizens feel that “wildeats” provide a sense of freedom and relaxation.

On Xiaohongshu, posts tagged with “wildeat” have garnered over 39 million views, with thousands of users engaging with the topic. A post about staying overnight at a rest area in an RV received around 13,000 likes, while a typical post about going to Moganshan (a hill getaway not far from Shanghai) with a pet also gathered over 3,000 likes.


Image via Red 美美酱是只赛博猪.

For many, a “wildeat” offers a temporary escape from urban life, relieving them from anxiety and pressure.

One Xiaohongshu user shared, “I used to feel pressured by the delicate lifestyles portrayed online. As an ordinary person, I’m tempted to follow trends, but since discovering wildeat, I’ve found joy in life's simplicity. For those who don’t understand this happiness, you’re missing out.”

A Xiaohongshu user with the account name Cici. [sic] raved about her “wildeat” experience at a local park, writing, “Just spending 20 minutes doing nothing at the park made me very happy! I enjoyed eating chestnut toast at dawn, reading, and forgetting all my worries. That’s my date with Earth.” The simple post received 110,000 likes.

Readers following Chinese Gen Z slang might be reminded of “citywalk,” a Chinglish term that describes exploring a city on foot, which went viral early in 2023. The two lifestyle concepts speak in different ways to the younger generation’s desire to slow down and relax, as well as avoid certain kinds of conspicuous consumption.

However, not everyone has embraced the new concept, which like “citywalk” uses an awkward portmanteau to describe an activity that could be easily captured by pre-existing English terms.

As one Weibo user commented, “Creating words like ‘citywalk’ and ‘wildeat’ may indicate a desire to be unconventional and innovative but it simply reflects a lack of cultural literacy.”

Banner image via Xiaohongshu.

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