By CLAIRE TAMBURELLO
When the word “trendy” is mentioned, veganism isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Reports show that maybe it should be. Despite the common perception of those who abstain from animal products as lone hippies, smelling of patchouli and organic tofu, more people than ever are following a vegan diet.
According to The Vegetarian Times, 3.2 percent of Americans follow a vegetarian diet. That adds up to around 7.3 million people in the US alone. Even more-around 7 percent of Americans identify as “flexitarian”: a person who consumes less meat than they would on a standard diet.
Young people in particular seem to be most inclined towards meat-free meals. Nearly half of all vegans are under the age of 34, while only 14 percent are over 65 years old. So why is veganism so popular with the younger crowd? It may have to do with social media influencing public opinion. Many beauty and health bloggers have helped put veganism on the radar. From simple avocado toast to vibrant smoothie bowls, instagrammed photos of food beg the audience to try out plant-based recipes.
Another major influence on public opinion? Celebrities advertising the meat-free movement. Stars like Ellen Page, Ariana Grande and Joaquin Phoenix rave about the benefits of this lifestyle, convincing die-hard fans to give it a try.
Sometimes, however, the reason for the switch can be more personal. Those who follow a vegan diet are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Last year, the World Health Organization published a study linking processed meat consumption to cancer. Veganism has also been found to be one of the best diets for weight loss, so if you’re looking to lose a few pounds, cutting out animal products may be the way to go.
Environmentalists commonly subscribe to meat-free eating as well. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of deforestation, water pollution and climate change. A standard American diet is responsible for seven times more greenhouse-gas emissions than a plant-based one. It’s easy to see why a citizen concerned about our environment would reconsider their eating habits.
The most common reason for this, however, is the most obvious: animals. People care about animals and don’t want to see them harmed. The animal agriculture industry slaughters over 56 billion farmed animals each year. It’s estimated that each person eating a standard diet consumes close to 200 animals per year. That’s 7,000 animals in a lifetime.
It’s easy to see why so many people these days are going vegan.