Going “vegan” was once seen as an extreme choice of deprivation. What about chocolate? Eggs? Cheese? Bacon? How could a person really give up all those flavors?
Veganism seemed to struggle for a long time to find its footing, but in recent years, the lifestyle choice has exploded in popularity. Veganism is associated with so many health benefits, environmental factors, and animal rights support. Something must have clicked between veganism and the public, because veganism has risen by 600 percent in America between 2014 and 2017.
So, should businesses be catering more for vegans? Would a bigger range of vegan options bring in more money for U.S. restaurants and stores? Well, according to Supermarket News:
- 83 percent of adults in America would be open to making meatless meals
- 58 percent of adults in the U.S. opt for non-dairy milks
- 36 percent buy plant-based alternatives to meat
- 26 percent have already reduced their intake of meat in the last year
From this, we can see that the vegan choice isn't wholly black-and-white; there's the option of reducing our consumption of animal products in favour of a few meatless or dairy-free meals during the week (a 'flexitarian' approach). Perhaps because of this, the mindset towards vegans has drastically improved, changing from ridicule to respect.
But what has reshaped veganism in our eyes? Looking at the results of 2018’s Veganuary, a movement that challenges people to sign up for a month of vegan eating, the top reason for people signing up was animal rights concerns (43 percent). This was followed by 39 percent of people who signed up for health reasons, and 10 percent who said it was for environmental reasons.
But one newspaper did spot an interesting correlation between Google searches for the word 'vegan' and the word 'Instagram,' suggesting the reason for veganism's rise could be a little vain. In a world where we love to take photos of our meals and share them on social media, it’s not difficult to believe that Instagram has helped circulate numerous brightly-coloured vegan dishes to help improve its previously ill-held reputation of being nothing but leaves.
The colorful array of 2018 vegan food trends offered up by Vegan Food & Living would certainly be Instagram-worthy:
- Veggie fries, such as parsnip fries and sweet potato fries, make for a healthier option than normal potato.
- Edible flowers, to make your meal beautiful
- Vegan desserts, bringing back ice-cream and cakes in vegan-friendly ways. Ben and Jerry’s have released three delicious vegan-friendly ice creams: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, and Peanut Butter and Cookies are all sure to be a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike!
- Fermented foods, while they might not conjure the most delightful image to mind, are coming into food trends in a big way. Think colourful kimchi and nutty-flavoured tempeh.
The next step for supporting vegans would be for businesses to offer more on-the-go vegan options. The market is certainly there, and restaurants and supermarkets are slowly picking up on the potential gains to be made by catering to veganism.
A vegan diet can help your health, too. Studies have shown that only 1 in 10 American adults eat enough fruit and vegetables. Eating enough fruits and vegetables each day is vital to help reduce heart disease, strokes and premature deaths. Picking up a few vegan meals throughout the week, or switching to a vegan diet entirely, would certainly help hit this healthy target.
Perhaps you're thinking of going vegan or being more 'flexitarian'; you could go super-healthy with your own home-grown vegetables. Even a small garden can house a few home-grown herbs and fruits! You can grab some compost bags and start cultivating your own supply of tomatoes for a home-made tomato sauce, or cucumbers for the freshest salad you’ll ever taste! Don’t forget your proteins—a vegan diet has loads to choose from, and you can grow some in your garden alongside the veggies. Think beans and seeds, like sunflower seeds or soybeans.
Will you be diving straight in as a new vegan, or maybe making a healthy switch to a few meat-free meals a week? You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how far vegan cooking has come, and if nothing else, you’ll reap the many environmental and health benefits.
Amy Hodgetts is a professional copywriter for Mediaworks, a digital marketing agency. A content writer and web content optimiser, Hodgetts has built a strong foundation in writing through many years of hobby and volunteer writing online and working on her own novel. She is a graduate from the University of Glasgow, with an undergraduate MA (Hons) in English Language.