First we saw the stocks of McDonald’s begin to fall and animal rights activists and environmentalists everywhere cheered! Vegan options in grocery stores are becoming more commonplace and the alternative milk brands are racing ahead. Today 36% of Americans prefer nondairy milks. Businesses are waking up to veganism as the future. Are government bodies, too? I think so.
The UN came out with a report stating the only way to feed the world’s growing population is by growing small organic farms. Following a few short years later came the World Health Organization’s study on the cancer causing elements of meat. Based on their findings processed meats are now listed as known carcinogens. The tides of worldwide food culture are turning, and they are turning towards veganism.
So what have been some of the big milestones in this vegan sweep of the world?
Ben & Jerry’s announced four vegan ice cream flavors! Now mainstream grocery stores sell almond, hazelnut, cashew, hemp and nut blend milks. The second American vegan butcher shop just opened in Berkeley. Approaching a decade of drought across the Western United States Governor Jerry Brown was quoted saying “If you ask me people should be eating veggie burgers”. Those options are growing rapidly!
Earlier this year California opened a second vegetarian fast food chain, now with Loving Hut worldwide Amy’s, best known for frozen vegetarian dinners has surfaced a fast food restaurant with a drive-thru and vegan and gluten-free options. Amy’s is rivaling Loving Hut one of the first veggie chain takeout leaders. Enough people are buying plant-based that Burger King now serves a Morning Star veggie burger meal. The fast food giant started with six meatless options on their India menu and are growing veggie burgers to their worldwide menu. These business sector breakthroughs for animals and the planet have been followed by changes in legislative representation. This year in United States vegan companies got their own lobbyists in Washington DC.
Among some of the most wide sweeping changes are companies picturesque of the American diet adopting more vegan foods and products to keep up with health, animal and environmental awareness in our food system. Market trends show veganism is going mainstream with its mention on menus, in sitcoms and by healthcare providers. A growing amount of Americans and people worldwide are familiarizing with the term “vegan”. 35% of the consumers associate vegan food with health food. More than a consumer association between vegan foods and animal welfare, marketing studies show the #1 association is health. With the acclaim of long term vegans, as health trends grow so have alternative meat sales! Sales of meat alternatives in the US rose to $553 million in 2012 up by $40 million two years prior, according to the market-research firm Mintel.
Especially during the Obama era healthy eating has become a more commonplace practice. Stigma around the causes of disease is on the decrease as “preexisting condition” has become a term in healthcare debate every American has heard. We have so much food in the developed world and fortunate for us we are swimming in food solutions. A balanced all plant diet is the only diet that has been shown to prevent and reverse the symptoms of diabetes type 2. Eating healthy and plant-based is becoming a more socially accepted part of American culture. (Thanks, Michelle; hey Healthcare Movement). Veganism in the market and in research has a critical place in regaining health as a people, a planet and in our relationship with animals.
Here is to the future of mainstream vegan eating!
Photo: Serge Esteve via Unsplash