Veganism - Fad Or The Future?

Veganism has become, it seems, as avoided a topic at family gatherings and dinner tables, as politics. Even mentioning the word ‘vegan,’ more times than not, turns into a feisty battleground. Everyone has an opinion and boy do they range.

Arguments aside, there’s no doubt that veganism is set to be one of the biggest food trends over the coming years. Unlike unicorn-coloured coffees/bagels/pastries or cereal-coated fried chicken, plant-based eating is a trend that the food industry is beginning to take very seriously.

You only have to look to food-trend capital of the world, New York, to see the boom in vegan food, with street-food stalls selling vegan mac and cheese and vegan junk food joints offering burgers and ‘nice-cream sundaes.’ Note the words ‘vegan food' have been used here rather than veganism as cities such as New York, Sydney and LA treat vegan food like any other cuisine. New Yorkers go out for vegan food like they might go out for Dim Sum or Italian – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they follow a vegan lifestyle.

Many people are simply choosing to eat fewer animal products, without cutting them out completely. With the rise of documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What The Health, one of the main reasons for people consuming less meat and dairy has to do with environmental concerns. And here is where the evidence sides with eating more vegan food. Meat production accounts for 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. To put that into perspective, that’s more than all transportation combined. That’s all cars, planes, trains, boats – the lot. The meat industry’s contribution to global warming puts even massive oil companies such as BP and Shell to shame.

When you look closely at the stats, it’s rearing cows for beef, in particular, that has necessitated an urgent case for protein alternatives. Food science is stepping into the spotlight here, with plant-based creations such as the much-hyped ‘Impossible Burger,’ which has been made to replicate beef. And too, there has been a definite increase in vegan eating outside of the main hot-spots such as New York and LA.

Melbourne has been named by a few as the new ‘vegan capital’ of the world, plant-based food options recently rose by a massive 633 percent in Germany, and the UK meat-substitute industry is set to grow by 25% over the next five years.

By no means has vegan food shed its controversial image. However, we can learn from New Yorkers and eat a little less meat and dairy, and enjoy delicious vegan food more often. It doesn’t have to be about taking sides, but enjoying both sides, and being more informed about the impacts of what you choose to put in your mouth.