The vegan diet has been around for a long time, but lately, veganism has a renewed spirit and enthusiasm that has this food “trend” growing at an insanely rapid rate. In the last 3 years alone, there has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan in the U.S. It doesn’t end there either, because all over the world, plant-based diets are continuing to grow in popularity. The lifestyle and diet seem like they may be an obvious choice for animal lovers, but there are actually many other reasons why more are adopting a plant-based diet, and many may be quite surprising! When considering a lifestyle change like the vegan diet, it’s important to look at all aspects of it, so that in the days it feels difficult or restrictive, you can remember why this diet can be so positively impactful. It’s also important to involve your health care providers in your decision making process, as you should with all dietary changes. But let’s take a look at just why this vegan diet thing seems to be sticking around, and getting stronger by the day.
What you eat doesn’t usually make you think about the environmental impacts. Typically when it comes to the environment, we’re concerned with things like the cars we drive, reusing and recycling, and just being conscious of our precious planet earth’s needs. So it may shock you to know that a single pound of beef produces more carbon dioxide than burning a gallon of gasoline. Say what?
The statistics are staggering, and while we are all looking towards more electric vehicles and eco-friendly transportation, the bigger impact on our environment comes to down one very basic thing – our diet. It’s been reported that livestock is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. To put that in perspective, that’s more than every car, plane and all other forms of transportation put together.
It’s been a debate for as long as anyone can remember whether or not a human can really even thrive on a vegan diet. Now, science is here to back it up.
The American Dietetic Association stated that well-balanced vegan diets are healthy, nutritionally sound and even aid in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. For many, knowing this can be a tipping factor in cutting out the by-products of animals knowing it is indeed a healthy choice, too.
No, not the warm and fuzzy loving feelings of being a vegan, but the actual living, beating, keeping-you-alive HEART. Just ask former President Bill Clinton, who after heart troubles and near-death experiences adopted the vegan diet at the advice of his doctors to keep his heart beating alive and well.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the U.S., particularly in men. The vegan diet is often times the chosen diet for heart disease prevention, and has an added bonus of being the only diet that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease!
This one is controversial because vegans don’t get animal-based collagen in their diet, which is essential to healthy hair, skin and nails. Yet celebrities and long-term vegans alike stand by the claim that a plant-based diet has kept them looking youthful!
Since a well-balanced vegan diet can still provide enough collagen and vitamin C (essential for metabolizing collagen) there’s no reason to believe that a plant-based diet won’t aid in your skin’s aging as well. Beyond that, since a lot of plant-based diets are rich in antioxidants as well as beta-carotene, it’s not uncommon for someone enjoying a vegan diet to have a natural “glow” about them. Thanks, veggies!
Yep, it is. Listen, we’re not saying a trend is a reason to hop on a new diet, but that’s the world we live in. It’s a popular diet these days, and it’s become much more mainstream with chic new hot spot dining options serving up entirely vegan menus.
It’s so trendy in fact, that nearly every restaurant (fast food lagging behind) has adopted at least one or two exclusively vegan menu options. With it’s rapid growth in popularity (again, 600% in 3 years), it’s no wonder people are so intrigued.
Documentaries have been climbing the ranks of popularity, especially with the millennial generation, all thanks to streaming services such as Netflix. Documentaries almost always have an agenda to raise awareness on something. When it comes to vegan documentaries, they aren’t hard to pull off, because so much of the food industry is just outside of our awareness.
Whether these documentaries use shock tactics to grow their own agenda, they are also incredibly thought-provoking. So thought-provoking, that many after watching a documentary decide to take a step towards a more plant-based diet. Documentaries that are known for making waves of impact are examples such as “Cowspiracy”, “What the Health” and the upcoming James Cameron film “Game Changers”.
This loops back to the whole concept as veganism as a trend, but the fact remains, we are so influenced by those we admire. More often than not, we buy what they’re selling. As fans, we take their advice seriously.
With celebrities such as Arnold Schwartzenegger, Ellen Degeneres, Zac Efron, Ellie Goulding, Drake, Beyonce and more talking openly about their experiences with the vegan diet, it’s no wonder many are feeling “inspired” to try it themselves!
It’s never fun when you’re dealing with gut health troubles. It can be crippling for many, and you’re willing to give up any foods recommended to try and balance out your tummy troubles.
Commonly, gut health issues can stem from foods such a gluten, dairy and meats. When looking to heal one’s gut, it’s often a smart approach to try a vegan diet to see how it impacts your digestion. If you try it and it works, it can be hard to go back to your old ways when you’re finally feeling gut-healthy!
Ok, so expensively labeled “vegan” specialty foods aside, plant-based diets are more often than not way less money than traditional meat, cheese, and egg inclusive diets. Not having to buy meat proteins can slice and dice your grocery bill down in the best way.
Additionally, while fruits and veggies can be expensive, shopping seasonally and even locally at your farmers market you will find you’re still coming in under budget from your former ways. Proteins being tofu, beans, legumes are all inexpensive and plentiful and don’t go bad for a long time. Less waste, more money.
There’s no arguing that a vegan diet is typically on the leaner side, with fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, and grains, it’s no surprise that many find themselves shedding excess weight when they adopt a more well-balanced plant-based diet.
However, there’s always a catch. With any lifestyle or diet choice, there is always a balance to be found. Not all vegans will be trim and fit, because foods such as french fries, Oreos, and sour candies can be vegan, and an overindulgence in them can most definitely hinder weight loss. That doesn’t detract from the fact though, that veganism has shown in studies to be the best long-term diet for weight loss and maintenance.
Thanks to vegan popularity, new foods are arising as champion in the meat-free industry, with options from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat gaining attention for their nearly exact replica to meaty foods while remaining entirely vegan.
Options help because options create solutions. For many, it’s been a lack of options that have kept them from going vegan or plant-based because it’s just too difficult or frustrating to succeed at.
The benefits of factory farming are quicker production and lower costs which is why it has seemingly taken over the industry. Currently, factory farms produce between 75-99% of the United States animal byproducts such as chicken, turkey, pork, beef, dairy, and eggs. It makes it harder and harder to source non-factory farmed foods, which is why so many are opting to stop supporting it whatsoever.
Factory farming has sadly replaced many small-scale and often family-run farms. This has created economic problems, raised public health concerns and even brought about the findings of unethical conditions for animals. And again, the huge carbon footprint on our planet. It may seem like a drop in the bucket to change your diet, but with the number of people adopting plant-based diets, we may just see a drastic change in the way foods is farmed.