Veganism, commonly referred to as the plant-based revolution is undoubtedly the fastest growing lifestyle of millennials today. Over the last decade the increase of ‘vegans’ has quadrupled, whilst “flexitarians” – non-vegans who have reduced their meat consumption switching to plant-based alternatives, yet admittedly are not quite ready to ditch the turkey at Christmas or that sausage sarnie on a hungover Sunday morning – are also on the rise. Great Britain is leading the trend with a staggering 360% increase over the past ten years amounting to a whopping total of 542,000 people.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has found that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the worlds greenhouse gasses, while livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions; putting this into perspective, that is more than ALL transportation combined, and yes by that I mean cars, trains, buses and planes! The statistics, however, don’t stop there, according to NASA, 70% of deforestation in the Amazon is also caused by livestock production. Now, whether you champion a caveman diet or you simply live on tempeh, those are some mind-boggling stats.
Aside from the facts touched upon above, there is a multitude of reasons for why so many of us are jumping aboard the plant-based train. Traditionally, we have the fully fledged holistic vegan opting for polyester pants and cruelty-free products, while some others are more concerned with following a plant-based diet for health concerns. The findings published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have arguably influenced many by linking processed meats such as bacon to cancer while stating red meats are “probably carcinogenic”.
PETA, the globes biggest animal rights advocacy organisation is spreading the vegan voice through social media platforms including online videos. Their “Chicken Dinner in Reverse” gained over 15 million views on their Facebook account alone. PETA claims they are “the most engaged-with advocacy organisation on social media, period”, so it’s not so surprising that the likes of Instagram and YouTube are playing a crucial role in changing people’s perceptions towards veganism.
In 2005, Dr. T. Colin Campbell published “The China Study”, a 30-year comprehensive works, hailed as one of the most important books about nutrition ever written. Since then an expanded edition has been released exposing undeniable evidence advocating a plant-based diet, dispelling a multitude of health myths and misinformation.
Documentaries such as “The Reality of Truth”, “Cowspiracy”, “Forks over Knives” and “What The Health” have also played their part, some of which cause quite a stir within the press. These programs, full of hard-hitting facts confront some of the globes biggest corporations with no concern for rocking the status quo.
However, it’s perhaps the celebrities and social media influencers that take the leading role by bolstering a trendier profile to veganism encouraging the most tenacious meat-eaters to contemplate the switch. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robbie Williams, Lucy Watson, Demi Moore, Miley Cyrus, Jared Leto, Ellen De Generes, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, Russell Brand, Jermain Defoe and Michelle Pfeiffer are just a few of the stars that follow a vegan diet.
Paul and Stella McCartney insist that simply cutting back on eating animal products can make a world of difference, and so they launched a non-profit campaign encouraging people to go meatless one day less per week. Perhaps being influenced by The Earth Day Network who state that “if the average civilian skipped eating steak once a week it would be the equivalent to taking a car off the road for three months”. The former Beatles legend even wrote a song to help the cause, while hashtags #OneDayAWeek and #MeatFreeMonday have up to 161,400 tags on Instagram under tantalising food snaps.
It’s not only the A-listers who are turning to a more colourful way of living, many top league athletes are adopting a plant-based approach to help their athletic performance. This contradicts the familiar misconception that a vegan diet is deficient in protein which food corporations so often lead consumers to believe – yet this is true with any diet that isn’t followed properly. If you beg to differ you could challenge former world boxing champion David Haye who has followed a plant-based diet for four years and claims, “it’s a myth that you need meat for strength”.
The Williams Sisters otherwise known as the “green machines” in the vegan community have followed a raw vegan diet since 2011 after Venus was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome. In an interview with Health magazine, Venus explained how turning vegan “changed everything”, enabling her to return to the courts with a newfound vitality, thanks to good treatment and a newly followed plant-based diet. Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 champion stopped eating meat two years ago, technically following a pescatarian diet but recently has cut all animal products in an attempt to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Closer to home, Marbella and it’s younger sister Puerto Banus have also taken a slight step back from greasy fry ups and backline pizzas, opting instead for organic superfoods and macro-friendly meals. Over the past two years, there has been a substantial development within the food scene as we have witnessed the openings of new vegetarian and vegan-friendly eateries catering to the ethically concerned and health conscious body.
Local and tourist hotspot La Sala Banus has created a new green menu solely offering vegetarian and vegan meals, favourites include Lebanese classic, tabbouleh, Sala homemade hummus and their show-stopping Thai green coconut curry. On a day-to-day, Phosh (by the M13 gym) offer a helping hand by providing a weekly meal prep service. They tailor to all your dietary needs keeping those calories at bay whilst taking out the hassle by delivering directly to your door.
To conclude, I hope this article has shed a little light on this growing lifestyle choice of many, and as the winds of change blow one step closer towards sustainable living. Only skimming the surface of this topic I’d encourage you to conduct some of your own research, which simply can be done by watching one of the documentaries listed above. Maybe you’re already vegan (if so, go you), or perhaps you’ve been dabbling in and out of the idea. You could think about setting yourself a 22-day challenge, Jay-Z & Beyoncè style, which could act as a physical detox if nothing else.
Being an all or nothing type of character I dived straight into the deep-end of the pool, and as of yet have no regrets…
By Millie Pugh