Veganism has risen in popularity over the last decade and has lost its reputation as being an extreme or a fad diet.
The term veganism was used for the first time by Donald Watson in 1944. He was a member of the English Vegetarian Society and wanted a word to describe vegetarians that didn’t eat dairy products. During the last decades of the 20th-century veganism was mostly related to animal rights. Even though vegans still have the same concerns today, most also maintain it is a healthy lifestyle choice and it helps to protect the environment.
Even though many people believe it is a modern trend, vegetarianism has been embraced by Hindus, Buddhists, and eastern Mediterranean cultures for thousands of years.
Veganism has become a conscious choice
Even though the decision to become vegan differs from person to person, most vegans usually fall into one of three categories.
The first category includes those that are against using animals for human consumption. By avoiding animal-based products, they are supporting their belief in the unethical killing of animals. Their choice also includes the use of other animal products like leather, wool, and silk.
In the second category, one finds the vegans concerned about the strain meat production is placing on the environment. The environmental impact is huge because meat production requires water, grain, land, and produces greenhouse gases.
Thirdly, veganism is popular as a lifestyle choice and foregoing animal products reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
A sharp rise in popularity
Today, 9.7 million Americans are following plant-based diets. That is a sharp increase of 300% over the last 15 years when only 290,000 people were practicing veganism.
The rising trend can be attributed to several factors. Veganism has become more accepted and is not ridiculed anymore. Vegans can now find a bigger variety of meat-free foods in supermarkets who have introduced sections dedicated to vegan diets. People on vegan diets now have access to vegan chocolate, colorful fermented foods, veggie chips, and a whole lot of vegan desserts.
Restaurants and fast-food outlets are also adding vegan foods to their menus, and across the globe, some restaurants only offer vegan meals. People who choose to be vegan also find that their friends and family are more open to their choice and happily cater to their needs.
Social media has also played a huge role in the growing vegan trend. Google searches on veganism have spiked and it is a hot topic on Instagram. Instagram is where many people go for food inspiration, and its growing community of supporters include celebrities and influencers. Colorful photos on social media have helped improve the reputation of veganism, once considered dull. The posts and photos inspire people to get creative and produce delicious meals with vegetables only.
The benefits of veganism continue to entice more and more followers. Studies have proven that vegetable consumption is much healthier for us. For those who don’t want to commit but like the idea of eating healthy, being a “flexitarian” entail opting to go vegan a few days a week. This offers many health benefits and can help relieve the strain on the environment.