How Veganism Has Increased in the 2020s

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It seems like everywhere you go these days, you’ll see products labelled as vegan or plant-based, when just a few decades ago, vegan was a little-known term.

But in the last two decades, that’s all changed, and the number of vegans is soaring. In fact, the number of vegans has more than quadrupled in the UK. But the UK isn’t the only place to see an immense increase in vegans, as the US, Canada and other countries around the globe have also seen a rise in the number of people identifying as vegan.

This rise in the number of vegans has created an enormous demand for more vegan options, and to meet this demand, vegan options aren’t just at the grocery store but also at restaurants, cafes and corner stores. In addition to plant-based food options on menus and store shelves, beauty and skincare departments are now filled with vegan products that are not only free of animal products but also from animal testing.

But how has veganism become so commonplace in such a short time?

There are a few driving factors and influences at work. The three biggest reasons are attributed to the sustainability, animal rights and health benefits associated with the diet. On top of this, other influences add to the interest in going vegan, or at least add to the awareness of the diet.

Animal Rights Activism

The heart of veganism, at least when the term was coined in 1944, is typically associated with avoiding anything that harms or exploits animals for human use. In the 1940s, this meant that the vegan movement avoided more than just foods that were a product of animals; it also avoided animal products in all aspects of life.

Today, animal welfare continues to be a driving factor in people choosing to follow a vegan diet and lifestyle, with some vegans like Verna Burgess believing that “if meat is murder, then dairy is torture.”

Environmental Activism

Veganism and environmentalism have become closely entwined in recent years as we’ve become more aware of the toll our eating habits take on the environment, like the fact that meat and dairy production comprises 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and uses over 100 litres of water to deliver one glass of dairy milk.

These facts have led many to see eating plant-based options as a form of environmental stewardship. While even plant-based options still have a negative environmental footprint—for instance, almond milk needs nearly 80 litres of water to make a single glass—it is significantly lower than dairy or meat-based options.

Health Benefits

Veganism has been associated with lowered risks for heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. Many people have even reported having better sleep and digestion after switching to a vegan diet. Healthcare researchers often credit these health benefits to the fact that vegan diets tend to be high in fibre and lower in saturated fats. All of these benefits have created an interest in going vegan for the sake of overall health and wellness.

While there are many health benefits, there are still important considerations for your health when making the switch to avoiding animal products, like supplementing Vitamin B12. When it comes to things like getting enough protein, you don’t need to worry as much as you might think. There are plenty of plant-based proteins that allow you to meet your daily requirements.

Celebrity Influence

Adding to the interest and awareness of veganism is the number of celebrities who follow a vegan lifestyle. Some of these celebrities include Natalie Portman, Bella Hadid, Ellie Goulding, Billie Eilish, and Rooney Mara. These celebrities are open about their dietary preferences, which is essentially a celebrity endorsement for veganism, making it something worth taking note of or even trying among their fans.

Vegan Athletes

Adding to the celebrity influence is seeing the success of athletes who have adopted a vegan lifestyle and feel that it has significantly improved their performance. For those having doubts that veganism will provide everything a person needs to be healthy and thriving, these athletes help reduce these worries. A few vegan athletes you might recognise include Lisa Gawthorne, Meagan Duhamel and Venus Williams.

Introduction of Veganuary & Meatless Mondays

Veganuary is a challenge to commit to a vegan diet for the month of January. It’s similar to playing slots for fun in demo mode; it lets you get a taste of the vegan diet and lifestyle without the commitment of being fully vegan. You can determine if it’s the right fit for you and if it’s something you want to pursue more regularly. Millions of people around the world have signed up to participate in this challenge, so much so that it’s now a trendy way to start the new year.

The idea of Meatless Mondays has also become a popular approach for challenging people to try vegan meals. Meatless Mondays show people that to have an impact on the environment or to help reduce the demand for animal products, you don’t have to have a strict vegan diet. Instead, you can be flexible in your approach to it, eating meats or other animal products sometimes and committing to plant-based meals at others. This attitude has made it easier to slowly wade into the lifestyle before embracing it fully.

Veganism Is Here to Stay

The growing selection of vegan options and the hard-to-ignore health benefits make veganism more appealing than ever. Add to these the fact that following a vegan diet and lifestyle allows people to live and act on their values in their day-to-day lives, and you quickly realise that veganism is likely to stick around.

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