What is the future of the plant-based lifestyle? It’s true that the number of vegans in the UK has almost quadrupled in the last four years
What is the future of the plant-based lifestyle? It’s true that the number of vegans in the UK has almost quadrupled in the last four years. A recent 2021 YouGov survey estimated that at least 600,000 people are following a plant-based lifestyle, a figure that has no doubt increased since then. Across the world, over half a million people signed up for the Veganuary Challenge, trying veganism for the month of January. Other sources show that one in three UK consumers regularly choose plant milk over dairy. But is the latest buzz around veganism just a trend or is it a movement that has long-term staying power?
Whilst it is fair to say that there is a growing trend for veganism, with celebrities getting on board and endorsing this lifestyle choice across social media channels, it’s also important not to underestimate the significance in this shift of numbers towards a plant-based lifestyle. Education, from a young age is part of this increased awareness. Nowadays, children are taught about nutrition and healthy food choices from a young age at school. Already kids and teenagers are starting to think about nutrition and nutrients. The information out there is much better than it used to be and dare I say it, we know the things that are bad for us and we consume a lot of them in our everyday diet.
Veganism and vegetarianism are hot topics across the media today - which is all good news for the plant-based lifestyle. We’re now seeing the government advising us to eat less red meat and fewer dishes of fish, not because fish is necessarily bad for you, but it can contain other harmful substances as well as the good stuff. We also have some great charities and organisations raising awareness of the impact on the planet, the environment, on our oceans, and the two go hand in hand. The increased press around these issues is encouraging more and more people to research alternative lifestyle choices - which leads them to a plant-based lifestyle.
Why is plant-based living more appealing than ever before?
There are many reasons why people are choosing to go vegan, or to substitute some food choices for plant-based alternatives. Here are four key reasons:
1. Celebrity endorsements
As well as raising awareness of veganism, the rise of celebrities talking about their lifestyle choice to go plant-based has also helped many others to make the switch. High profile celebs like Ariana Grande and Madonna are getting people talking about the change in diet and how simple it can be. Sports icons like tennis player Venus Williams have been instrumental in changing perceptions about training with a plant-based lifestyle - showing that it is possible to get the protein and nutrients needed even when you’re as active as a world class athlete! Finally the rise of Instagram stars like Ella Mills, founder of Deliciously Ella; GraceFit UK, offering fitness and vegan living advice; and many others like them giving practical tips and recipes on how to live vegan daily has helped people to feel able to make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle.
2. Greater awareness of the environmental impact of eating meat and fish
As we have already mentioned, thanks to increased reporting in the press and on the internet, we are now more aware than ever of the impact that global meat and fish consumption is having on the environment. High profile voices such as Sir David Attenborough are increasingly calling for people to consider reducing their meat and fish intake for the sake of the planet in response to climate change. Recently, Sir Attenborough addressed attendees at the annual Davos Summit about the changes that need to be made to restore fish stocks:
Organisations like the World Economic Forum have prioritised food security and ways to avoid potential food shortages in the coming years, taking into account a growing global population and increased demand for food and water under the strain of climate change.
It’s not just the academics who are talking about the environmental impact of how and what we eat. Documentaries like Cowspiracy have become popular on Netflix, as we look to educate ourselves on the future of the planet.
3. Social Media — spreading ideas and uniting people
Thanks to the rise in social media and pages dedicated to veganism, it is easier than ever before to find a community of like-minded people and get support for making the change in your lifestyle. With everything from recipes to campaigns, social media also uses algorithms to prioritise what you see on your news feed. You will see more content about the subjects you have shown an interest in - this continued repetition of messages and invites to pages and groups that are linked to plant-based living is a good way to stay on track, both in the early days of going vegan and also down the line.
4. It’s easier than ever to be a vegan
Let’s rewind for a second - ten years ago, when being a vegan was often a challenge - you would likely be the only one in your friendship group following a plant-based lifestyle, so eating out was often difficult, even supermarket shopping wasn’t easy with vegan options often costing more and limited in choice.
Thankfully all that has changed. Most supermarkets now carry vegan ranges, restaurants not only have a vegan option but often have an entire plant-based menu. There are more cookery programmes and magazines dedicated to plant-based recipes than ever before. And chances are, many people in your social circles are vegan.
Veganism has become a mainstream lifestyle choice, making it more accessible and appealing to people regardless of their income and circumstances.
How do you ‘go’ vegan?
Are you considering making the change in your lifestyle to follow a plant-based diet? You may have read about the environmental impact of meat and fish consumption and want to make a practical change for the sake of the planet. Perhaps you’re not quite sure where to start. The good news is you’re not alone. The rise of veganism as a trend and a movement means that there is now more support than ever before - in short, you couldn’t have chosen a better time to make the change!
A great place to start for accurate and useful information is the Vegan Society, where you can find an entire section on how to go vegan on their website, with advice on everything from switching foods to making sure you get enough nutrients.
“Making small changes to your everyday meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet.” (The Vegan Society)
Whether you choose to make the change overnight or take a slower path, the important thing is to take that first step - joining thousands of others embarking on a journey to a plant-based lifestyle.
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Looking after our health and wellbeing includes a healthy diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep, but often we can turn to supplements to help too.