Is Veganism Going Mainstream?
‘How can you tell if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you’ – ironically, I’m pretty sure that this joke crops up on my Twitter timeline far more often than any of my vegan friends discussing their eating habits. The word 'Vegan' brings to mind an image of a long-haired, sandal-clad hippie sipping a mug of herb-infused tea with ‘calming properties.’
However in October 2016, The Vegan Society reported that veganism in the UK had grown by 350% in ten years – with up to 540,000 people in Britain cutting meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey out of their diets. Celebrity icons such as Stevie Wonder, Pamela Anderson, and Ariana Grande have all publicly declared their veganism and there was even a period in 2016 when Queen Beyoncé herself was consuming a plant-based diet. Could the vegan lifestyle be going mainstream?
Why Go Vegan?
One of the main reasons to opt for a vegan lifestyle is for the animals – I stopped eating meat because I simply couldn’t reconcile with myself the idea that living, breathing, feeling creatures are commodities to be bought, sold, given away, and killed for human gain. I am firmly of the view that if you wouldn’t be unable to do to an animal yourself what is done behind the closed doors of an abattoir, then you should not reap the benefits of it.
Nonetheless, I’m aware that not everyone has this view. Research shows that health is the second biggest driver of veganism – cutting out animal products can also cut out cholesterol, lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Another reason to go vegan is to preserve the planet – veganism reduces pollution and saves water, energy, and wildlife. If animals and the environment aren’t your thing – how about people? Abattoir workers are ‘the meat industry’s other victims’. They are subjected to working in poor, dangerous conditions and are underpaid for this work.
The Cost of a Vegan Diet
Another age-old criticism that meat-eaters love to shout about is the cost of veganism. In 2016, The Metro reported that it apparently costs us an extra £2,000 annually to follow a vegan diet. Whilst this may be true for individuals who struggle to cut animal products out and rely heavily on meat and cheese substitutes – I’m no stranger to a Tofurkey Maple Bacon Tempeh sandwich – it’s actually really easy to continue to eat all of your favourite meals at the same price, if not cheaper, on a vegan diet. The vegan lifestyle menu still includes ‘meaty’ burgers and chicken salads, and Quorn vegan products are priced at around £2.50 for a pack of four in most supermarkets. Alternatively, you could go one cheaper and cook an entirely vegetable based meal – as demonstrated by Rebecca of Strength and Sunshine.
The Vegan Community: Visiting the National Veg Food and Lifestyle Festival
On Saturday 30th September, Manchester Vegan Festival came to Salford’s Audacious Church. Vegans are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Manchester and the vegan fest’s food stalls did not disappoint – street food destination, Olo Kitchen offered a Polish taste of veganism with its traditional pierogi – or in their words: ‘the best dumplings in town!’ Got No Beef served up all of the classic burger toppings – fried onions, ‘bacon’, ‘cheese’, and tomatoes – with a side of the lesser known classic: humanity.
Delicious Vegan Burgers from 'Got No Beef'
Sweet treats were provided by stalls such as Forgot the Eggs – who have mastered the egg-less meringue. Also on offer were T-shirts from animal-friendly fashion brand, ‘Wear Your Voice’, beautiful crystal-based jewellery from Rogue Gypsy, and skincare and make-up from Arbonne – all of which are available to buy online.
Raspberry Swirls from Forgot the Eggs
Unsurprisingly - since no one at the festival was screaming about their veganism - I couldn’t tell whether or not everyone attending was in fact vegan, but the buzzing atmosphere and six-people deep queues at each stall implied that there is definitely a demand.
Why not give veganism a go? There are tons of different ways to start: try meat free Monday; cut out products from a certain animal each week; or go cold-turkey (minus the turkey). Find your local vegan festival and see where you end up.
Written by Sophie Howarth for Grace & Green. Grace & Green is a revolutionary new hygiene company which is connecting women with period products which are good for your body as well as the planet. Join the movement today and go into the draw to win a year's subscription of organic period products or a menstrual cup.