“The youth of today.” A deep sigh and a shaking of the head usually accompanies this phrase. But an emerging global trend, which has a younger generation drinking less than their parents, turns these words of admonition into praise. The “Mindful Drinking” movement has seen more people choose low- and non-alcoholic drinks in other parts of the world. And now this trend is gaining momentum in South Africa.Capetonians Sean O’Connor and Barry Tyson launched Mindful Drinking SA to promote and de-stigmatise the consumption of non-alcoholic drinks. They are hosting the Mindful Drinking Festival at Kirstenbosch Cottages in Newlands on Sunday 20 October to showcase the wide range of alcohol-free drinks available in South Africa.O’Connor says: “Our mission is to make alcohol-free drinks socially acceptable – even desirable – for young and old to choose in any situation.”He says there are several reasons why the younger generation are drinking less – health and fitness priorities, greater awareness of social harm caused by alcohol and exposure to positive lifestyle trends on social media. “Alcohol-free drinks taste better than ever before. The sooner we get South Africans to embrace them as a normal part of our society, the better,” he says.Castle Free, Heineken 0,0 and Savannah Non-Alcoholic launched locally in the past 18 months, joining a growing number of other alcohol-free beers, non-alcoholic wines, craft “vir-gins”, mocktails and kombuchas. The “non-alcoholic” classification as per the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act, is defined as a product of which the alcohol content is less than 0,5%.The new Castle Free, launched in 2017, is now the largest non-alcoholic beer brand in South Africa. Georgina Willows, brand manager: Castle Lager, says data from more developed markets shows that as the social economic conditions improve, consumers become more health-conscious and make more considered choices when it comes to food and alcohol. The company has set itself the goal to have 20% of its portfolio coming from non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beer by 2025.“Even though it is an emerging trend in South Africa, we believe there is a lot of future growth potential in the low and non-alcohol market,” says Willows.Distell has two non-alcoholic offerings on the market: Savanna non-alcoholic Lemon and the JC Le Roux non-alcoholic. Maijaliina Hansen-Chipps, cluster lead: Savanna and RTDs at Distell, says the launch of the first non-alcoholic cider in the local market earlier this year was in line with evolving consumer needs towards moderation, responsible drinking, self-expression and choice. “We are very excited and encouraged by the appeal and continued interest in our non-alcoholic products,” says Hansen-Chipps.Products from more than 30 alcohol-free producers will be showcased at the festival, along with healthy food stalls, including vegetarian and vegan options, and live music. Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground fame will be performing songs from her new solo collection. Other live acts include The Porchlights, Hatchetman, Dax Butler, the Biscuit Mill Jazz Band and Pravda. There will also be a blind-tasting event for the public MC-ed by Nik Rabinowitz.Tickets cost R100 via Quicket or R130 at the door. Kids under 18 free.V For more about Mindful Drinking South Africa please see www.mindfuldrinking.co.za.