The appeal for veganism is increasing beyond the niche of animal rights groups and animal lovers. Who would have thought that fast food restaurants like Chipotle, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, and Subway (in select locations, which offers a vegan patty) all have vegan options? Even Taco Bell has options for vegans if you choose wisely; the 7 Layer Bean Burrito can be made vegan if it has five layers—just forgo the cheese and sour cream. If you get creative, most restaurants will work with your dietary needs, or wants of animal rights. Vegan products are even being displayed more centrally in the grocery aisles, instead of being relegated in the dusty recesses of the “health” section.
What Has Changed?
The small group of people who avoid meat and animal products in general, primarily due to ethical reasons alone, now encompass a much larger base of consumers who are in search of healthier, organic, and more environmentally whole foods. Moreover, recent trends have found that U.S. consumers use meat alternatives and tend to prefer milk substitutes such as almond, coconut, or soy.
In addition to healthier options, consumers associated vegan products with environmental and social responsibility, and weight loss. The gluten-free movement is also associated with veganism and consumers are making that connection.
Education is enlightening. In the past, people were not familiar with what the word vegan entailed; now it is a word being used with more frequency, even in mainstream media. Although there is still some negative connotation to the word vegan, positive marketing and media spins tying social responsibility, environmentalism and weight loss to vegan products do spread the awareness effectively. Social media also plays a factor with plant based recipe groups and those who are making the transition to becoming vegan support groups as well.
It definitely helps when people who are household names are trading in their meat laden fare for plant-based choices. Veganism has now taken Hollywood by storm. A few celebrity role models who are now vegan are Beyoncé and Jay Z, Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres, and Jared Leto.
If you need any more reasons to dip your toes into the vegan mainstream, look no further than your local grocery store. The options are plentiful, diverse and even come in microwave and pop in the oven choices for the busy individuals who need the convenience. Veganism is not just for the hippie tree huggers anymore, it is for the millennial, career driven, social conscious people who just want to be around for their great grandchildren.