And I'm alive to see it!
Honestly, I'm one of those vegans who never thought I'd go vegan. I'm also one of those vegans who can't imagine going back. I'd wish I started sooner if I believed in regret, but there's really no point in regret. You can't change the past. I was a part of the problem. Now I'm part of the solution. And that's kind of the point of life, when it comes down to it. Learning more and doing better, over and over.
The message is getting out. People are learning that eating animals is destroying our climate, our air, our water, our topsoil, our bodies, our health, our species, and our world. And a lot of humans are acting in accord. I see signs of improvement everywhere.
But was it real?
At first, I was unsure whether what I was seeing was a real trend, because as we all know, Social media shows us more of anything we demonstrate any interest in. It knows where we shop and what we buy and it shows us ads for those items. Go vegan today and a glance at your newsfeed tomorrow will make you think your forward-thinking idea has been adopted by the whole world. What happened? Did everybody go vegan overnight?
The minute I bought my first plant-based product, all the bells and whistles went off at the virtual post-sorting facility in The Cloud, which I presume is repurposing those old Post Office sorting machines Louis DeJoy wrecked.
So clearly I knew I couldn't believe what I saw on social. Not believing what we see on social, by the way, should be taught in pre-school. In fact, Facebook should be required to have a surgeon General's warning across the top of every page.
But there are more reliable signs....
As many as 6% of U.S. consumers say they are vegan — a 6x (500%) increase compared to just 1% in 2014
Nearly 40% of millennials identify as vegan. Baby Boomers and Generation X tie at 21% each, with only 2% of seniors labeling themselves vegan.
In 2018, there were about 600,000 vegans in Great Britain (1.16% of the population). This was an approximately 300% increase in vegans in Great Britain from 2014, when 150,000, or 0.25% of the population, was reported to be vegan.
About 10% of Australians have adopted a plant-based diet.
Only 21% of Germans eat meat every day. That means 79% do not.
As sales for non-dairy milk go up, sales in the dairy industry are steadily declining. U.S. consumption of non-dairy milk increased by 61% while consumption of cow’s milk decreased by 22%.
Plant-based food sales increased by 1500% (not a typo) in the UK and 92% in AU.
Awareness is Spreading
And as I always say, when we know better we do better. You have to know things are improving when Burger King is even offering a meatless option.
I see new startups selling vegan foods every day. New blogs and websites popping up all over. New cookbooks and cooking courses being released every single day.
I am also noticing more news coverage from the bigger news sources. You know, the ones the world takes seriously.
Even some of the environmental agencies have begun listing animal agriculture as a leading cause of climate change, air and water pollution and land destruction. I couldn't find any to link to, but I've heard it's happening.
The harmful impact and absolute insustainability of animal agriculture has made its way into the public consciousness now. Everybody knows corporate farms are causing climate change. Part of that is because of technology. Everybody is a walking camera these days, so the horrible treatment of the animals we eat is out there where anyone with the stomach for it can see it for themselves. A viral video of a grain truck rumbling past a starving family on its way to deliver feed for nearby cattle that will be slaughtered and exported to wealthy Americans is worth a million words.
People are more connected than ever before. When we learn something we find particularly astounding, we tend to share it. Sometimes we even include our sources. Word of mouth is more powerful than it's ever been before, because every mouth has a megaphone.
Another source of word spreading is that more and more medical professionals are finally telling their patients the truth about what meat and dairy are doing to their bodies More Doctors Telling Their Patients: Eat Less Meat. The AMA and the American Cancer Society and other major medical groups are finally educating themselves and sharing what they learn about the benefits of a meat free diet. At medical conventions there is always a speaker talking about the subject of veganism and that never used to happen.
We are all learning. And we are doing better! We really are.
Let's face it, humans are a rather lazy species. That's why continually create technology that makes our lives easier, faster, more convenient. Reading books and news articles and doing research is a lot of work. Fortunately, there are some among us who love that sort of work, and a small percentage of those also love filmmaking.
Bonus: We have had lots of time to watch TV over the past year and a half, and many of us have discovered documentaries like FORKS OVER KNIVES, COWSPIRACY, SEASPIRACY, GAME CHANGERS and WHAT THE HEALTH to name just a few. These programs found a bigger audience due to pandemic lockdowns. They are more popular than ever and more often than not, backed by major players like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
I watch them over and over. I take copious notes.
So things are improving
It's getting better and better. I believe my great grandchildren will grow up in a culture where eating dead animal carcasses and drinking the breastmilk of cattle will be as disgusting a notion as cannibalism is to us today.
One note though...
With the rapid growth of plant-based food companies and plant-based offerings from non-plant-based food companies, we need to remember how everything depends on one's definition of "Food."
"Plant-based" and "vegan" are not synonymous with "healthy." They are, however, hot marketing terms. Yes, eating vegan is healthier than not eating vegan. But processed foods are processed foods. Using plant-based meats, cheeses, milks, butters, salad dressings is way better for the planet than meat and dairy based products. They also make the transition to veganism far easier.
But I'm 59 and primo health is one of my goals, so I try to eat more whole foods in their natural form, and keep processed foods to a bare minimum.
Even if that's not the case, some of these brands are ridiculously bad. I've seen a plant-based home delivery meal plan with a plethora of plastic containers that are not recyclable in most neighborhoods.
And there's a new vegan ice cream brand that uses casein!
Casein the protein from cow's milk that switches on cancer genes in those who consume it. That protein is the top reason I gave up dairy and started on my vegan path to begin with! And casein is not vegan, except according to the people who decide what products get to put "vegan" on their labels. To them it's fine. (Which makes me very suspicious about what else is labeled vegan that's not actually. Kind of like that expensive pay to play "tuna safe" label we all learned about in Seaspiracy.)
Don't get me wrong. I think it's awesome that all these new options are opening up for eating plant-based. Thank goodness. I just want us to remember to go in with our eyes wide open and read the ingredients lists thoroughly, even on products we would expect to be good for us.
All that aside, though....
There are more plant-based products in stores than ever before.
There are more plant-based options in more restaurants than ever before.
There are more planet-based resources online than ever before.
There are more people identifying as vegan than ever before.
There are more people cutting back on meat, fish, and diary than ever before.
There is more public awareness of the harm animal agriculture and commercial fishing do to our bodies and to the planet than ever before.
That, my friends, is excellent progress!
We are changing the world.
One meal at a time. :)