Depleting resources, health concerns, and consideration for animal welfare. These definitely address and push people to switch to veganism and make plants the base of their diets. It’s not just a fad anymore. It’s fast becoming a lifestyle, something more and more people are learning to embrace and appreciate.
If a couple years ago, veganism was just a buzzword, these days, it has become a matter many food companies are seriously considering as the market population continues to grow exponentially. If before, people simply brushed off the idea of lentil curry and nut milks, now they’re looking for them in supermarkets.
Still not convinced? Let these telltale signs show you that the up-and-coming trend in cuisine is plant-based. And that living clean and green, in every literal sense of the word, isn’t so farfetched.
1. People are reading about veganism online
It seems like a lot of people have taken an interest in the subject, as evidenced by a spike in searches for articles and stories on “vegan,” according to Google. There was a 32 percent increase from 2014 to 2015, and in 2016, it was an astonishing 90 percent. Since there have been a great number of positive news stories about plant-based eating online, people have taken the bait and fed their growing interest. In the UK, for example, searches for veganism beat out other diets such as paleo and gluten-free based on data from Google Trends.
2. There’s a decrease in meat consumption
Being a carnivore seems to be falling out of trend as people having been eating less meat—some even none at all. According to a study published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), beef consumption among Americans decreased by 19 percent between 2005 and 2014. The decline is also apparent with pork, chicken, shellfish, and whole milk, though not at the same rate as beef.
3. Companies have jumped on the veganism bandwagon
Commercial food brands recognize the opportunity in tapping the growing vegan market. As a result, many have come out with lines that feed their needs. Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s released a non-dairy line that uses almond milk. Last year, they introduced patrons to healthier versions of their bestsellers like Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey.
Subway offers vegan subs like the Malibu Garden, composed of a patty made with brown rice and rolled oats and slathered with a zesty and fiery tomato sauce. Even home goods store Ikea has latched onto the trend with vegan versions of their famous meatballs, produced by mixing green peas, kale, peppers, and chickpeas.
PETA has made things a lot easier with a comprehensive list that identifies which grocery finds are vegan. The roster includes Oreo cookies and Twizzlers.
4. Big investments placed in vegan food startups
Private investors see and recognize the future; they’re placing millions in food startups like Beyond Meat, a plant protein with the taste and texture of meat. Both Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and Tyson Foods swear by the brand and have invested in the Los Angeles producer. Other plant-based startups getting the attention—and money—of big-named businessmen include Hampton Creek, maker of the egg-free Just Mayo and oil-free Just Dressing, and Follow Your Heart, which is known for vegan eggs, vegan cheeses, and Vegenaise.
5. The release of plant-based cookbooks
Cookbooks have vegans covered. Bookstore shelves are slowly filling with published materials on the dietary concerns of vegans. “The Blossom Cookbook” comes from Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth, the tandem that introduced America to this cuisine. “Veganize It!” is the ultimate DIY pantry and recipe book penned by Robin Robertson, one of the vegan world’s most prolific authors. “Thug Kitchen” asks you to give a f*ck about what you eat. And there are piles more, touching on a broad range of topics like grains, raw food, street food, holiday entertaining, and budget meals.
6. Festivals gathering fellow vegans
The fact that this cause is being celebrated by populations all over the world definitely means that it’s a big phenomenon. The two-day Vegan Festival in Adelaide, Australia has notable speakers; the DC Vegfest is typically attended by over 15,000 participants who wolf down food from over 100 vendors; and VegFest in Hawaii has cooking demos, lectures, and live music. Closer to home, there’s the volunteer-run Hong Kong VegFest launched in 2013, which includes community programs and movie screenings.
7. Films featuring subjects in support of the movement
Movies and documentaries that show why the world needs to shift to a vegan diet are not produced mainly for entertainment. They stand for an ideology filmmakers want to bring to a wide audience. Many of them are about the maltreatment of animals, like “Earthlings,” featuring Joaquin Phoenix; the award-winning “Peaceable Kingdom,” which examines farmers’ relationships to their animals; and the factory farming documentary “Speciesism.” Netflix streams a handful, too, such as “Food, Inc.,” which tackles the unsustainable practices involved in producing meat, and the popular “Okja,” an action film about an orphan’s fight to save her super-pig from being supper.
The writing is on the wall: Veganism has arrived, and it won’t be long before everyone gets with the program.
Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 14 No. 5