Veganism is one of 2019’s top trends. With the number of vegans said to be increasing by 160% over the last decade and with 25% of Americans between 25 and 34 claiming to be vegan, it is a trend we can’t ignore. But what is being vegan really about? Is it all dietary requirements and animal rights?
What exactly does Veganism imply? Is it more than dietary requirements and animal rights? According to vegansociety.com, veganism is: “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Veganism seems to be in line with other consumer trends, such as an increased corporate and social ethical responsibility as well as exclusion of what is deemed to be unhealthy. It is about more than not eating animal-derived products, it is about having a holistic approach to sustainability for oneself and the environment.
It is hard to argue with such sentiments, so why don’t more of us consider this route? It might not be the easiest option, but supermarkets have a much bigger variety of vegan alternatives for meat, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of legumes available – and there are many wines that qualify as vegan! (Vegan wine is any wine that does not use animal-derived products during the fining process. Although usually not indicated on the label, many wines comply with this requirement. Read more.)
Other than enjoying meat and dairy and not being willing to make the lifestyle sacrifices, what are the negatives of being vegan? Being ridiculed by friends and not wanting to miss out on your favourite cheese hardly seems like good enough reasons when you consider the positives.
- Vegan diets can be expensive – but mainly when non-vegan products are replaced with soy-based, vegan-friendly alternatives. Supermarkets offer vegan alternatives for ice cream, cheese, meat in all shapes and forms – from sausages to burger patties to steaks! (Read more) Sticking to rice, pasta, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables, however, shouldn’t make it too expensive.
- Being vegan does take more effort. While vegan options are of course available, weekends away with friends, restaurant dinners, etc. might require some extra planning and preparation.
- While veganism has a strong environmental focus, it does not always mean ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal. That can also be true for regular diets, but with the unique requirements and fresh produce needed for veganism, it can be more of an issue here. (Read more)
Even while listing the negatives, I can’t help but finding arguments against them and think that they are not enough reason to discourage veganism. In today’s world we have access to so much information that we can’t claim ignorance. The only dilemma is that one is confronted with different truths and the perfect choice is usually not straightforward. An increase in plant-based diet requirements will impact on agriculture and business in general and it is important for those involved to keep this in mind when making business decisions. (Read more)
I can’t see myself going down the vegan road – even though I know the food can be delicious and I would still be able to enjoy my favourite wines… While I don’t encourage extremes, I do appreciate such dedication. I think the values of veganism is a wake-up call to make better choices. Perhaps have less meat, choose the seasonal produce, buy locally and in the process, live and let live.