In recent years, veganism has surged in popularity. In the UK, for example, there has been a 360% rise in the number of vegans in the last decade. Veganism suddenly seems to be everywhere – there are new products coming out, most restaurants now offer a vegan option, and it’s all over social media.
Formerly associated with hippies, veganism is now sometimes viewed as a hipster fad. People are accused of doing it for attention, or because they think it’s cool. Others are assumed to be doing it in an attempt to lose weight. But is this justified?
Personally, I suspect veganism has been labelled a fad because so many new vegans are young people. The things young people do are often trivialised or viewed as trends – children and teenagers are seldom taken seriously when they make a decision based on what they feel is right.
Though there may be a minority of people who adopt a plant-based diet because other people are doing it, for most people veganism is a deep commitment. It’s far more than a diet – it’s the complete rejection of all forms of animal exploitation.
Put simply, those who think veganism is a fad just don’t understand what it is. It’s often linked with trends such as avoiding gluten or the ‘paleo’ diet, but these are just about food. Veganism is a philosophy.
Most people who are truly vegan (as opposed to plant-based) won’t ever go back, because they’ve experienced a dramatic shift in consciousness. Once you see how deeply wrong our treatment of animals is, you can’t unsee it. To go back is unthinkable.
For this reason, veganism is destined to keep rising in popularity. Whereas fads soon lose momentum, the number of vegans has been steadily increasing for a while and will soon hit a tipping point. Many vegetarians haven’t truly made the connection between their choices and the suffering of animals, and as a consequence they may lapse. But veganism is the result of a deep understanding that what we do to animals, we do to ourselves.
I predict that those who dismiss veganism are in for a shock. Given that the United Nations has said it will be necessary for us to adopt a plant-based diet to avoid climate change, we may all be munching on plants in the not-too-distant future.
Do you think it’s fair to call veganism a fad, or doesn’t that do it justice?