In a world increasingly concerned with the impact of our dietary choices on the environment, animal welfare, and personal health, survey has found that 20% of non-vegans are considering adopting a vegan diet within the next five years.
Who is Gen Z?
The term Gen Z is associated with people born between the mid to late 1990s and the early 2010s, they’re the generation following the Millennials.
The people born in this era have grown up with a world of information at their fingertips, which allowed them to become incredibly informed about various topics, like the environment, animal welfare, and health.
As a result, the word “vegan” is increasingly popular among this generation, who are more likely to question the necessity of animal products in their diets.
Their interest in plant-based diets is part of a broader shift in societal values and priorities, with younger individuals often advocating for a more sustainable and compassionate future.
What are the barriers to veganism?
Despite the many perks of plant-based diets, there are a few hurdles that can make it tricky for some people to jump on the vegan or vegetarian bandwagon. Here’s the lowdown:
- Price perception. Vegan diets tend to be more expensive, which can limit access to affordable plant-based foods for some folks.
- Nutrient concerns. Some people worry about potential nutrient deficiencies or have a hard time letting go of their favourite animal foods.
- The social foodie. In many cultures, meat and animal products take center stage in traditional meals, so choosing a vegan lifestyle might leave some feeling excluded or alienated.
- Limited options. Not all countries have a wide variety of vegan foods in restaurants and grocery stores, making it challenging to maintain a vegan diet.
- Misinformation. Despite efforts by the vegan society to educate the public, misconceptions about the health and nutrition aspects of a vegan lifestyle continue to persist.
While these barriers are valid concerns, awareness, and understanding can help make veganism more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.
Health benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets
Research has shown that vegan and vegetarian diets can offer numerous health benefits.
A well-planned plant-based diet is rich in essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and tends to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Vegetarian or vegan diets have been found to have lower risks of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Additionally, a low-fat vegan diet may promote weight loss and improve overall health.
However, it is necessary to approach these findings with skepticism and acknowledge that correlation does not equal causation. Some people may experience health improvements due to the overall quality of their diet and lifestyle rather than the strict avoidance of animal products.
The future of veganism
With growing interest in vegan or vegetarian diets, businesses are increasingly offering plant-based alternatives to traditional animal products. This trend is likely to continue as more people recognise the potential benefits of plant-based diets for personal health, the environment, and animal welfare.
Furthermore, advancements in food technology are making it easier to produce animal-free alternatives that closely mimic the taste and texture of animal products, making it easier for individuals to transition to a plant-based diet.
As awareness of the environmental and ethical implications of using animals for food clothing increases, it is expected that more people will opt for a plant-based lifestyle.
However, it is vital to remain critical of the evidence behind the claims made by proponents of vegan food. While there are undoubtedly health benefits associated with plant-based diets, the elimination of all animal products is not necessarily the only path to better health.
It is crucial to remember that individual circumstances, genetics, and personal preferences can also play a significant role in determining the best diet for each person.
The role of flexitarianism
As the interest in plant-based diets grows, more people are adopting a flexitarian approach, which focuses on incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets without entirely eliminating animal products. This middle ground allows individuals to reap the health benefits of plant-based diets while still enjoying their favorite animal products in moderation.
Flexitarianism can serve as a stepping stone for those considering a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle but are hesitant to make a complete switch. By gradually reducing their consumption of animal products, individuals can experience the benefits of a plant-based diet and make a more informed decision about whether a vegan or vegetarian diet is right for them.
The growing interest in veganism and vegetarianism highlights a shift in attitudes toward our food choices and their impact on the environment, animal welfare, and personal health.
Although barriers to adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet still exist, the increasing availability of plant-based alternatives and education about the benefits of plant foods may help to overcome these obstacles in the future.
As the world moves towards more sustainable and compassionate ways of living, the rise in plant-based diets could be a significant step forward.
In light of the evidence supporting the benefits of plant-based diets, it is essential to remain skeptical and recognize that individual circumstances and personal preferences may dictate the most suitable dietary approach.
By staying informed and open-minded, you can make informed decisions about our diets that align with our values and promote a healthier, more compassionate world.
- What does a vegan eat? Vegans eat a diverse set of plant foods, avoiding all animal-derived products like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. This also includes lots of fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. But it’s not just about food. Vegans also strictly avoid animal-derived products such as leather, fur, and wool, opting instead for cruelty-free and animal-free alternatives when it comes to clothing, personal care products, and household items.
- What is a vegan vs vegetarian? While both vegans and vegetarians avoid meat, the key difference lies in the consumption of other animal products. Vegetarians typically continue to enjoy dairy and eggs, while vegans bid farewell to all animal-derived products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. There are also subcategories of vegetarianism, such as Lacto-vegetarians (who consume dairy but not eggs) and ovo-vegetarians (who consume eggs but not dairy).
- Can vegans eat eggs? No. Vegans don’t eat eggs since they’re an animal product. Along with skipping meat, fish, dairy, and honey, vegans choose plant-based alternatives to meet their nutritional needs. The motivation behind this choice often stems from ethical, environmental, or health reasons, or a mix of these factors.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.