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Veganism’s Growing Popularity and the Debate on Sustainable Diets

Nowadays, an increasing number of individuals are consciously switching to a plant-based diet, also known as veganism, to reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate animal cruelty, and contribute to a greener, healthier planet.

What exactly does veganism entail?

Veganism is often referred to as a step further from vegetarianism. While the latter restricts itself from all kinds of meats, Veganism refuses to include anything and everything from animals. This means avoiding dairy products and things sourced from animals (wool, leather, etc.)

The Need to Switch:

Why are people increasingly promoting veganism? Does it matter what we consume? Veganism, its proponents say, serves to fight a variety of issues.

For The Animals:

For one, it eradicates the exploitation and slaughter of animals for their meat, milk, and other resources. The meat industry inflicts a great deal of damage on the environment. Animal agriculture has a high-water consumption rate. According to Buzzworthy, 2,400 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef. Moreover, commercially greedy poultry farmers torture animals to no extent in pitiable conditions. Animals are also often exploited by injecting them with steroid growth hormones c. While these increase monetary benefits by plumping the animal, in some cases, these animals might develop physical deformities. (for example, a Reuters investigation in 2013 found that fifteen cattle fed a growth stimulant called Zilmax were mangled and barely able to walk on their way to slaughter at a Tyson Foods processing facility. Thus, veganism aims to fight animal exploitation and thereby end animal suffering.

For the environment:

The meat industry has a tremendous impact on the health of our environment. According to The Guardian, 60% of greenhouse emissions from food production are attributed to the meat industry. Moreover, livestock farming leads to large chunks of forest land being cleared, leading to drought-like conditions and increased soil erosion in the region. Livestock farming leaves behind a massive carbon footprint that is impossible to reverse. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock production is responsible for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With the average meat consumption of human beings surmounting to new levels and the consequent expansion of the meat industry, the industry has added to the problem of water and air pollution and a scarcity of land.



For Our Health:

Consuming meat has scientifically been proven to increase the risks of cholesterol, thereby endangering your heart. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning they are known to cause cancer in humans. Red meat has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen, meaning it is carcinogenic to humans. Vegan diets, in contrast, are relatively lower in saturated fats and high in minerals and vitamins. Well-planned vegan diets follow healthy eating guidelines and contain all the nutrients that our bodies need. The British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognize that they are suitable for every age and stage of life. Some research has linked that there are certain health benefits to vegan diets, with lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Opposition and debate

However, many disagree with switching to a wholly plant-based diet.  These disagreements stem from a variety of concerns – economic: Animal products are relatively much cheaper and hence more convenient for low-income earning people. Cultural – Meats and dairy products are stapled foods in many cultures, so many are reluctant to change their dietary lifestyles. The protein factor is the most significant cause of worry for many meat eaters (who oppose veganism). While vegan diets can compete with those that include meat in this aspect (with proper planning and supplementation), many prefer to stick with meat due to widespread misconceptions.

Those who oppose veganism also press on the ethical side of the matter. They argue that giving up meat isn’t the only solution to combat the inhumane practices of the meat industry. Who decides what is allowed and what is forbidden? A lion isn’t called disreputable for hunting down a deer, right? The belief that since man has been consuming meat since time immemorial, he is meant to do so, is another popular belief among people.

How is Veganism Becoming Popular?

Despite the debate on veganism, plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular. With citizens slowly understanding the detrimental impact of the food and dairy industry on the planet, many are consciously making the switch. Average annual growth in global food and beverage launches with vegan and plant-based claims grew 21% and 58% between 2015-2019, respectively. This exponential growth is catalyzed by food influencers who are sharing their plant-based recipes with the world. The popular misconception that vegan food is ‘boring’ and ‘tasteless’ is slowly being dismantled by these content creators continually sharing ways to make your favorite dishes vegan. Additionally, plant-based meat and fast food (For example – evo foods based in Mumbai, India) and other alternative options that resemble meats' taste, texture, and smell are rapidly growing to help consumers gravitate towards veganism. According to Sentient Media, Worldwide, the total consumption of such meat substitutes has grown from 133 million kilograms in 2013 to 470 million kilograms in 2020. Lastly, many athletes like Lewis Hamilton and Tia Blanco have also turned vegan, showing that vegan diets do not in any way compromise on essential nutrients. The Guardian estimates that there are 79 million vegans around the world. 

With the masses becoming increasingly aware of the unjust malpractices of the meat and dairy industry, veganism is growing exponentially. However, it is essential to note that cultural norms play an influential role in dietary habits. Moreover, plant-based diets are more prevalent in Europe and parts of the U.S., while other countries still widely consume meat. In India, vegetarianism is much more prevalent (as Hindus are the majority) since many are uninformed about veganism.

Thus, as the vegan food industry grows, it's important to understand that food preferences differ due to various factors and that everyone has a choice.


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Tags: #vegan #veganism #sustainability #plantbaseddiet

1 comment

3 weeks, 6 days ago by kyenilataylor

I enjoyed reading your article about veganism and why some people are deciding to go vegan. Also, it was well-organized your article. For example, the subtitles made it easier to digest the information. It was very refreshing. Great job!

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