A vegetarian diet is simple: stop eating meat. A vegan diet is also simple: don’t consume any animal products. In practice, these diets can be seen as difficult for people because of the culture surrounding them. Vegans can be seen as aggressive in their opinions, but that’s a vocal minority. Most vegans are cool with whatever you do, indeed there is a growing movement of vegans who are celebrating people who just eat less meat.
The Bros take an inclusive approach to veganism: “We cast a big tent, and the goal is to bring people in. [We don’t] define vegan in this very stringent, hardcore way that is inaccessible to people.”
They’re definitely onto something. In November, Quartz chronicled the transitionthat the animal welfare lobbying group The Humane Society made in its messaging: Less emphasis on no animal-derived products under any circumstances, and more on fewer, better-raised animal products. The idea is that by getting consumers to demand more responsibly raised meat, as opposed to no meat at all, more animals would be saved in the long run.
Having a vegetarian or vegan diet can be difficult for some people even though such a diet can make you happier than meat eaters. The message that eating less meat is being heard though – the benefits of a reduced meat diet are huge.
To help people eat less meat (even though it’s already easy) there’s a new movement that people can identify with: reducetarian.
According to Mintel’s report, though, the rise of vacillating, part-time vegetarians who are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption is more significant than the growing number of categorical, self-identifying “vegetarians” or “vegans.” This has led to an evolution on the supermarket shelves—the number of food products carrying a “vegetarian” claim has apparently doubled to 12 percent, while one in eight meat buyers would now consider buying half meat and half vegetable protein across a week’s shopping. Even the less obviously meat-containing products like chocolate or sweets are playing to this growing market, with 11 percent now alleging to be animal-free.
Unfortunately I’m no vegan, but this article is inspiring me to try harder at being one!
The article is an interview with Gene Baur, who is the founder of US-based animal rescue organization Farm Sanctuary about why a vegan diet is good for the planet, animals, and you.
What’s responsible for the rise of veganism?
I think there’s a convergence of issues. There’s more awareness of the cruelty in factory farming with the internet, YouTube and photos being widely distributed. There are growing healthcare problems. In the US, heart disease and cancer are the number-one killers and both can be seriously lessened by switching more to a plant-based diet containing whole foods instead of processed junk food. There are also the environmental consequences of basing a diet on animals. The UN put out a report called Livestock’s Long Shadow that talked about how livestock industry is one of the top contributors to serious environmental problems including climate change. As we face more economic challenges, I believe there will be a natural tendency towards more plant-based farming.
Would you like to see everyone become a vegan?
I’d love to see that, but I recognize everyone has to make their own choice. It’s my belief that this is the best way to live and the most humane way to live and the healthiest. There are a lot of things in this world we cannot control but one thing we can control is what we eat. Choose food that makes us healthy and makes us feel good and not make us say, “Oh, I don’t want to know where that came from.” Our food choices have big consequences on our health, the well-being of animals and the planet and I just want people to be mindful of that.