Firstly, what does it mean to be vegan? To some, it means avoiding meat and dairy in their diet; to others, it means steering clear of non-edible animal products too (e.g. leather). And to the rest, it is a bizarre concept that bans you from eating dozens of delicious dishes. No more chicken nuggets or cheesy nachos. There must be good reason why people are replacing these foods with vegan alternatives and encouraging the rise of the plant-based world. Vegan substitutes are slowly conquering the supermarket shelves and climate awareness has already colonised most of the world. Maybe veganism really is the way to go?
Being a vegetarian myself, I can vouch for the fact that avoiding meat is not as difficult as it seems. Of course, I’ve been veggie my whole life so I don’t know what I am missing out on but I can assure you there are loads of awesome foods that don’t have any meat in them. However, I’m not sure how I’d fare with the dairy-free side of things. I’d definitely miss the taste of eggs and cheese, the same way others would miss the taste of meat and I’m not sure if I’m determined enough to give them up. Although there are many alternatives, I’m skeptical about whether they taste as good as the originals. But are the arguments to ‘go vegan’ compelling enough to change my mind and the minds of others?
A major reason for adopting the vegan view on life is the environmental impact of the meat industry. Most people are already well aware of the deforestation and emissions that come with meat production and processing. It takes less than 5% of those emissions to produce the same mass of wheat. When it comes to choosing between meat or wheat, Mother nature definitely has a preference. Aside from that, the ethical side of things is also a key motivator in people’s perspectives. The ethical dilemma of farming is a tricky one; Though animals are cared for and raised in good living conditions, they are ultimately slaughtered for human consumption. It seems a bit contradictory, but that’s some food for thought for you.
Besides the reasons to become vegan, we have social media to thank for the giving veganism such momentum. Despite its reputation with fake news, social media has made it so easy to spread information and personal experiences. The number of resources you can find to help you go vegan is more abundant than ever. Who knew Instagram would help pave the way to a greener future? As far as trends go, ‘Veganuary’ is definitely a big one. Veganuary is where people pledge to lead a vegan lifestyle for one month and get access to a range of recipes and helpful tips. It gives people a chance to dip their toes into the unknown waters of veganism before diving right in. Veganism is spreading like a wildfire. Being talked about in everyday contexts makes a plant-based diet seem a little more attainable.
Celebs are playing their part too by using social media to spread the message. Billie Eilish, Evanna Lynch and Lewis Hamilton (to name a few) have ‘come out” as vegan on social media. They use their platforms as budding ‘veganfluencers’ to encourage others to do the same. Though these celebs have such a wide reach, veganism can still seem really out of reach for many people. It’s difficult to take such a life-changing step. Where do we even start? But fear not. Businesses have caught onto this and adapted their products to their new planet-friendly customers. More cafes have milk alternatives, more restaurants have plant-based options, and more shops have vegan beauty products. Cadbury has even introduced a new dairy-free dairy milk bar and apologised for taking so long to do so. Now that’s a big step.
So, is veganism trend or truth? Information about plant-based diets has been able to rapidly infiltrate society because of social media. The way that this is able to convince people to join the movement does indeed make it a trend. However, unlike many other ‘fads’ that fade out of the limelight, veganism is here to stay. The environmental, health and ethical reasons behind the lifestyle go far beyond an instagram trend. Why not jump on that bandwagon and give it a go? Although I’m not quite ready make the leap and go vegan, veganism has denfinitely bean on my mind. Lettuce know if it’s bean on yours too!