Veganism: ethical choice or dieting fad?

Many oppose the slaughter of animals, but it seems that rather than being a committed ethical choice, veganism is something many people are willing to dip in and out of. Trying veganism has become increasingly popular as a New Years Resolution, so much so that the term “Veganuary” has been coined. Many people perhaps don’t want to see the sight of meat again after having turkey for every meal over Christmas. I doubt though that each person taking veganism on for the new year shares Morrissey’s view that “meat is murder” but they are doing it with personal health benefits in mind. These benefits are reported to include lowering blood pressure and decreasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes which are strong motivators for members of the public to turn to veganism.

The power of celebrity endorsements can’t be underestimated, people want to emulate their favourite stars and that often means following whatever diet they are on. Brad Pitt, Beyonce and Ellen DeGeneres are all vegans and the trickle-down effect may have led their followers to turn their back on meat and revel in the rewards of veganism. However, veganism is not just being embraced by glamorous A-listers but by top level athletes who can better display veganism’s benefits. Jermain Defoe has undergone a renaissance in his football career which he believes is linked to his new vegan diet. He credits veganism for giving more energy in his mid-thirties and to allow him to perform as well as he did in his youth.                                                                                                    

These developments show that veganism is starting to lose its stereotypical image of a militant group who’ll condemn anyone they see eating a ham sandwich. It is permeating into our mainstream culture and supermarkets are making changes to accommodate the vegan consumer. 15% more meat free ready meals have been bought recently and Tesco launched a new vegan food range in January. The flexitarian (a vegan diet mixed with occasional meat) now has more quality food at their disposal to maintain their veganism rather than finding it too bland and giving up.

With more people turning vegan, is this going to negatively local butchers and the meat industry as a whole? On the contrary, meat sales have also been increasing recently particularly during the recent Christmas period. People are full of good intentions in January with their “New Year New Me” philosophy, having kale shakes and quinoa for breakfast but come summertime they may cave in. The smell of the barbecue on a hot day may prove too tempting for the vegan trialist to resist.

Veganism may be on the rise, but it seems that on weekends and special occasions we like to bring out our carnivorous side. Despite that, veganism will get bigger before it gets smaller so expect to see plenty of kale on supermarket shelves for years to come.                                                                                                                                                                                

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