Vegans were once stereotyped as hippies who eat nothing but salad. But now times have changed. Why did these changes take place? Probably because many people have become more open to change.
Rise of flexitarianism
Today, more and more people identify themselves as flexitarians. Flexitarianism means to reduce, but not completely eliminate, the consumption of animal products. More and more people choose plant-based food on weekdays and eat meat dishes only on weekends.
In Australia and New Zealand, flexitarianism is gaining popularity in part due to the emergence of a large number of vegan restaurants. In the UK, according to a recent survey by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, 91% of Britons identify as Flexitarian.
“We are seeing a growing demand for plant-based products,” says Sainsbury’s Rosie Bambagi. “With the unstoppable rise of flexitarianism, we are exploring further ways to make the popular non-meat options more accessible.”
Veganism for animals
Many give up meat for ethical reasons. This is largely due to documentaries such as Earthlings and Dominion. People have a growing understanding of how billions of animals around the world are being exploited for human gain. These films showcase the suffering that animals go through in the meat, dairy, and egg industries, as well as for research, fashion, and entertainment.
Many celebrities are also involved in raising awareness. Actor Joaquin Phoenix has read voice-overs for Dominion and Earthlings, and musician Miley Cyrus has been an ongoing voice against animal cruelty. The recent Mercy for Animals campaign featured a number of celebrities including James Cromwell, Danielle Monet and Emily Deschanel.
In 2018, it was found that the number one reason people are ditching meat, dairy and eggs has to do with animal welfare issues. And the results of another study conducted in the fall showed that almost half of the meat eaters would rather become vegetarian than kill the animal themselves at dinner.
Innovation in Vegan Food
One of the reasons more and more people are cutting back on animal products is because there are so many attractive plant-based alternatives.
Vegan burgers with meats made from soy, peas and mycoprotein are beginning to be sold in fast food chains around the world. There are more and more vegan offers in stores – vegan sausage, eggs, milk, seafood, etc.
Another fundamental reason for the growth of the vegan food market is increased consumer awareness of the health consequences of eating animal products, as well as the dangers of mass animal husbandry.
Veganism for health
More and more people are eating plant-based foods to maintain their health. Nearly 114 million Americans are committed to eating more vegan food, according to a study earlier this year.
Recent studies have linked the consumption of animal products to serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Eating three slices of bacon a week can increase your risk of bowel cancer by 20%. Dairy products have also been recognized by many medical experts as carcinogens.
On the other hand, studies show that plant foods protect against cancer and other serious diseases.
Veganism for the planet
People began to eat more plant foods to reduce their impact on the environment. Consumers are motivated to give up animal products not only for their own health, but also for the health of the planet.
People are becoming more and more aware of the impact of animal husbandry on the environment. In 2018, a major UN report showed that we have 12 years to prevent irreversible climate change. Around the same time, the Global Environment Organization (UNEP) Program recognized the problem of meat production and consumption as “the most pressing problem in the world.” “The use of animals as food technology has brought us to the brink of disaster,” UNEP said in a statement. “The greenhouse footprint from animal husbandry is not comparable to emissions from transport. There is no way to avert the crisis without a massive reduction in livestock production.”
Last summer, the world’s largest analysis of food production found that following a vegan diet is the “most important way” anyone can use to reduce their impact on the planet.
Oxford University scientist Joseph Poore believes that cutting back on animal products “will do much more than cutting back on your air travel or buying an electric car. Agriculture is at the root of many environmental problems.” He emphasized that the industry is not only responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but also uses excessive amounts of land, water and contributes to global acidification and eutrophication.
It’s not just animal products that are harming the planet. According to PETA, the tannery uses nearly 15 gallons of water and can produce more than 900 kg of solid waste for every ton of hide it processes. In addition, fur farms emit large amounts of ammonia into the air, and sheep farming consumes large amounts of water and contributes to land degradation.