Green shoots of veganism: Wild rise of plant-based meat

Written by Diana Treharne, CNN Ten years from now, the organ meats may be on their way out of the picture. The “Hedonistic Altruism” of being vegetarian or vegan is being challenged by organizations…

Written by Diana Treharne, CNN

Ten years from now, the organ meats may be on their way out of the picture.

The “Hedonistic Altruism” of being vegetarian or vegan is being challenged by organizations promoting vegan food and lifestyles, heralding the rise of plant-based eating.

But what may have seemed like science fiction to us a decade ago is now a lifestyle choice for many across the world.

Fishy idea

In 2017, the western world collectively ate around 250 million fewer animals than in 2015, according to a report released by the Worldwatch Institute

This growth in veganism has taken place at a phenomenal rate, as experts warn this trend could be sweeping the country.

Stories on this rise have included headlines such as “The rise of vegans,” and “Want to be a vegan? Try slaughtering pigs.”

But there is a ray of hope. Oliver Underwood, a marketing communications manager for Oxfam Britain says this movement is just “a blip” on the horizon.

“This was predicted 10 years ago, when world populations were almost 20% smaller,” he says. “Today, they’re almost 50% larger, meaning we’re likely to consume 50% more animals in the next 10 years.”

While the number of vegan dieters is double what it was two years ago, he says there are “just as many vegetarians as when the new trend emerged.”

The stark gap between an increase in veganism and a corresponding decrease in meat consumption is illustrated by the number of vegans in London. On a single Saturday in October, 547 Londoners gathered in Westminster in their hundreds to take part in The Vegan Walk.

As part of the event, participants wore a special T-shirt adorned with a picture of a happy vegan couple, encouraged to share their content on social media as a sign of solidarity with each other.

And these vegan practices are not without their fans. James Head, a 45-year-old chef and food photographer, became a vegan when he saw a vegan blogger a decade ago.

“I think a lot of people automatically go for the unscientific image of how we are raising our animals in today’s society,” he says. “And it’s easy to take a quick look through the headlines and have the unfortunate misconception that those animals need to be slaughtered for us to eat.

“With a vegan diet, we’re eating just as much meat as our regular meat eating counterparts, and yet we’re not eating at all responsible animals,” he adds.

A proud hermit

But if activists such as Stone are right, a large part of the blame for this rise in veganism lies with the way that animals are slaughtered.

“People are becoming more familiar with the issue of animal cruelty,” says Stone. “It used to be accepted that animal products had a nutritional value and we weren’t as concerned as we are now about cruelty.”

In September 2017, Chaim Cohen, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based vegan, told Business Insider in an interview that it wasn’t unusual for him to be eating foie gras and wine with his friends.

But earlier this year, he signed a petition led by Israeli activists Against Animal Flows (AFL), requesting a ban on kosher meat and wine.

Cohen, who now describes himself as a vegan, was featured in a YouTube clip alongside Aaron Stoller, president of AFL.

In it, Stoller describes meat eating as “the largest individual private contributor to the destruction of the world’s coral reefs.”

Cohen tells CNN that he does not regret his decision to become a vegan. “I’m very happy with myself,” he says. “I’m more at peace in my world.”

When asked what he thinks of those who think there is nothing wrong with killing a cow or chicken to make meat, Cohen says they “knew no better when they started eating meat.”

“The fact that there was something wrong with eating meat is a concept that we’ve overcome by ourselves,” he says.

Leave a Comment