2019 may just go down in history as the year veganism became mainstream.
In fact, an international business publication, The Economist, has hailed 2019 as ‘the year of the vegan’, whilst food delivery giant Uber Eats has predicted that plant-based dining will be its top global trend.
As supermarkets and restaurant chains across the world vie to increase their offering of plant-based products, it’s worthwhile asking the question, ‘why are so many people going vegan?’
Millennials lead, business and government follow
According to The Economist’s John Parker, millennials are driving the shift towards veganism – as businesses and governments gradually follow suit.
Market research conducted in the US shows that millennials (aged 21 – 38) are more likely than older generations to go vegan or vegetarian, with 15% of millennials reportedly following a plant-based diet today.
On a global scale, an impressive 70% of the world’s population is reportedly either reducing their meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.
The rationale for embracing dietary change is often three-fold – with concerns for the environment, animal welfare and personal health all providing compelling reasons for people to go vegan.
Growing concerns for the environment
The impacts of climate change are being felt in every corner of the globe, with extreme weather events occurring at unprecedented levels.
A recent report from the United Nations has warned that our international community has just 11 years (until 2030) to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
If we cannot accomplish this, scientists warn, the result will be a runaway cascade of climate change events – with catastrophic consequences.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the fuel emissions from our world’s entire transport sector.
Animal abuse cannot be ignored any longer
The advent of social media has brought news, information and images from all over the world into the palm of our hand, within an instant.
For many, the unbridled suffering of animals killed in factory farms can no longer be ignored – as countless documentaries, websites and advocacy groups document the plight of these gentle, sentient beings.
During World War II – the most lethal conflict in human history – more than 60 million people were killed over six years. The same number of animals die in the American food supply every ten hours.
With this sobering knowledge comes a responsibility to make decisions that we know are kinder, more ethical and more sustainable.
The good news is there’s never been a better time to go vegan, as a burgeoning global market produces meat and dairy alternatives that are convenient, affordable and above all – tasty!
Vegan food products are booming
Across the world, the sale of new vegan food and drink products is thriving, as international demand continues to boom.
In the US alone, the sale of plant-based foods increased by 8.1% throughout 2017 – with a market value topping $3.1 billion.
Global restaurant chains such as Burger King, Domino’s, Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell have all launched dedicated vegan menu items – while major players such McDonald’s are investing heavily in new product development.
Market insights agency, Mintel, has reported the launch of new vegan food and drink products internationally has more than doubled in the past five years, growing by 175% from July 2013 to June 2018.
All this goes to show – whether you’re visiting a new restaurant or doing your weekly grocery shop – it’s never been easier to access a wide variety of delicious and nutritious vegan foods to enjoy with family and friends!
Did we mention a vegan diet is healthier?
Coupled with this global shift in attitudes and appetites, is the happy fact that a well-balanced vegan diet is healthier for everyone.
In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the United States’ largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals) stipulated its position on vegan and vegetarian diets:
“Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
The Academy recognised that plant-based diets are appropriate for all stages of life, and offer a reduced risk of certain health conditions – including heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and some types of cancer.
A vegan diet (characterised by a low intake of saturated fat and a high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds) also supports lower cholesterol levels and improved glucose control.
As with any diet, there are some health considerations to be mindful of – and vegans are advised to integrate reliable sources of B12 into their diet, from supplements or fortified foods.
In all, a vegan diet is kinder to our planet, kinder to our animal friends, and kinder to our bodies. As Lent approaches, there’s never been a better time in history to go vegan!
To take your first steps towards an abundant plant-based diet, download our Vegan Starter Kit today.Get the Vegan Starter Kit