Plant-based living: the world-wide rise of veganism

Shay Porter

Digital Editor

For many people, the new year is a time for growth. It is a time to re-invent yourself or try new things. And for some, it is a time to go vegan.

Veganuary is a charity started in 2014 for the purpose of encouraging people to try a vegan diet for the month of January. Participants sign up online at veganuary.com. They’re then supported to try to maintain a vegan diet through a series of emails, social media content, membership to a Facebook support group, and a website full of helpful resources like recipes, a starter kit and meal plans.

In 2014, 3,300 people took part. Four years later in 2018, there were 168,500 participants. This is a clear reflection of the grasp vegan living has taken not only on American society, but people everywhere. This year, people from 193 different countries took the pledge to go vegan.

A vegan diet is a type of vegetarianism that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Some vegans choose to also extend the lifestyle further into daily life by not wearing or using any products that harms animals.

The impact of vegan living over the past few years is easily seen. There are more vegan options in restaurants and grocery stores than ever before. The global market for plant based milk is set to top 16.3 billion dollars in 2018, up from seven billion in 2010. Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, bought a five percent stake in the plant-based protein producer, Beyond Meat In 2016. Major fast food chains like McDonalds have begun to look into carrying more vegan options and there are even some entirely-vegan restaurants that have started to pop up in many US cities. An example of this is Southern Roots Filling Station, a vegan cafe located only 10 minutes from Douglas Anderson’s (DA) campus.

Six percent of the United States is now vegan, according to a study done in 2017 by Firm Global Data. This is a huge increase compared to the 2014 study in which only one percent of Americans identified as vegan. DA itself is a reflection of this, with a thriving vegan community and a club dedicated to the needs of those following this lifestyle.

Veg-Club is a DA based club focused on vegan and vegetarian nutrition. The club invites all people open to learning about a plant-based diet, and curious about vegan foods. The club advocates for educating people about veganism because of all the misconceptions people may have about it.

“I’ve been vegan for about a year and a half. I started around April of 2017 by switching out the meat in my diet for beans and tofu,” said Veg Club President, Sarah Spencer.

Like many people, Spencer found veganism through the thriving vegan community on Youtube.

Youtube, and other platforms such as Instagram, and Twitter, along with documentaries like Earthlings, and Cowspiracy work together to reveal reasoning and facts behind the vegan diet. It also works to further explain myths about veganism.

“Where-as before, veganism may have been viewed like you were giving up something, now it has been reframed as what you gain,” said Kip Anderson, Cowspiracy co-director in an interview with the Guardian.

Although it’s unknown if veganism will continue to grow at it’s current rate this much is clear: for many people, this way of living is more than just a fad, it is a lifestyle change, one with ties to health, environmental and animal based advocacy.

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