26 Sep 2015

Interest in Veganism is Booming in 2015

Interest in veganism has grown HUGELY over the last few years, and I don't even have to look at the official stats to tell you that. I know from experience. Three years ago, when I was vegetarian, I knew very little about veganism, knew zero vegans, and, admittedly, thought vegans were probably a little crazy. I was just so uneducated about veganism and there wasn't much information out there.

And then suddenly, around 2012, vegans started popping up all over the place. I couldn't hide from it. I tried to, for a little while, but eventually I had to face the facts, do some research, and become vegan myself. And in the almost three years that I've been vegan, I've watched the movement grow at an amazing speed. There are loads of vegan restaurants in my small city now, and even mainstream restaurants and supermarket chains are now offering several vegan options. Now, all of this tells me that veganism is definitely on the rise - but I also have some 'real' statistics to back it up!

"The past five years have shown interest in veganism grow in leaps and bounds."

The Wikipedia article about veganism, linked here, is a great source of information about veganism in general, with all sources well-cited. I tend to check up on it every now and then to see if any new information has been added. The other day, I noticed this (if you can't read it, drag the image to your address bar to see the full sized version):

Isn't it absolutely wonderful to see the word "mainstream" used in an article about veganism? Prior to 2010, veganism had little to no representation in mainstream media. Now, as this article tells us, the past five years have shown interest in veganism grow in leaps and bounds. The following graph details how interest in veganism has changed since 2009, based on visits to Wikipedia's articles about vegetarianism and veganism.

This graph tells us some amazing things. It details, by the thousands, August's monthly click rates for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 on Wikipedia's pages about vegetarianism and veganism. Vegetarianism is represented by a green bar, and veganism is represented by a purple bar. As you can see, interest in veganism and vegetarianism grew substantially in 2013 for English-speaking Wikipedia users. For Spanish-speaking users, interest grew hugely between 2011 and 2013, with veganism being a much more sought-after topic than vegetarianism. And 2014 and 2015, if represented on the graph, would likely show growth even higher.

"The recent growth of interest in veganism is largely because of new media."

The recent growth of interest in veganism, as I see it, is largely because of new media. The internet is a wonderful thing: while it's undoubtedly full of unreliable information, it's also a great source of uncensored truth. Before the rise of the internet, you'd be hard pressed to find any uncensored information about the dairy, egg and meat industries without visiting these places yourself. Back then, these horrors were well-hidden from the mainstream population. But now, the internet has opened up a wealth of information that almost all people can easily find and share. Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and Reddit have played huge roles, each with their own vegan communities. These communities can share information about animal agriculture, which, thanks to the vastness of social media, will quickly and easily spread across the globe.

Google Trends has also recorded the same rise in interest in veganism over the past few years. Compassion Over Killing has written an article all about it, teamed with a very interesting animation showcasing the increase of searches related to veganism between 2008 and 2013. Below is a graph of Google Trends data representing the increase of interest in veganism between 2004 and 2015. As you can see, between 2004 and 2010, interest in the topic was fairly steady, but rapidly began to increase around 2011. As you can also see, interest is continuing to increase, and Google Trends predicts a further increase in 2016 and beyond. This data is in line with my own observations about the growth of veganism in recent years.

What does all this information tell us? Well, the way I see it, it tells us vegans that we're making a real difference. As interest in veganism spreads around the globe, and as more and more people make the switch, interest will only continue to rise. This information tells us that it's all worth it. We don't have any hard data telling us exactly how many vegans there are in the world - but at least we know that interest is growing and will continue to grow. The more people know about veganism, the more people will make the change. Here's to more vegans and less suffering in 2016 and beyond!

13 Sep 2015

How to Help Family & Friends Become Vegan

Once you've been vegan for a while, and you've cooked a lot of delicious vegan meals, your family and friends might start to feel a little curious. At first, they might think you're crazy for avoiding meat, eggs and cheese - but eventually, they might start wanting to try some of your cooking. They might comment on how delicious it is, and how they can't believe it's vegan. They might, even, mention that they would be vegan too, if only they didn't love meat and cheese so much!

And that's the catch. A lot of people are 'potential vegans'. They care about animals, they care about their health, and they like to eat delicious food, just like vegans do. But there's a few issues that get in the way. Addiction and tradition are two examples I've come across often.

"For many people, eating meat is normal. It's something they've grown up doing, and something they never thought much about before."

Let's start with tradition. For many people, eating meat is normal. It's something they've grown up doing, and something they never thought much about before. When meat-eaters talk to vegans, however, they're forced to think about it. These thoughts affect different people in different ways. Sometimes, they'll get defensive. Sometimes, they'll be curious. And sometimes, even, this initial defensiveness will lead to curiosity. This gives vegans the opportunity to show their curious family and friends just how awesome it is to be vegan.

The concept of not eating meat seems (from what I've seen and heard) to be really difficult to comprehend for a lot of people - especially older people. People who grew up in a time when food was scarce can be confused or even offended by the idea of being 'picky' about food. I can understand that, but in actuality, it's not about being picky. Veganism, to me, is about wanting to cause as little harm to animals, people and the environment as possible. So it's a super positive thing, and we can hope that these people will eventually catch on to that. Make sure to let them know.

Help your family learn that all families matter

So, next, let's move on to addiction (a word I'm only using for lack of a better one. If you can think of a better term let me know! I know this isn't really comparable to other, more serious forms of addiction). Cheese has addictive qualities. I've written at length about this in another post, so if you're interested in the addictive nature of cheese, head on over here to find out more. In summary, it can be difficult to give up cheese, but there are lots of alternatives to try, and after being vegan for a while you likely won't ever want to eat cheese again. My post about transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism, found here, has lots of information about cheese alternatives.

Today, I watched a really interesting and informative video by Unnatural Vegan on this topic that I encourage you all to watch. Here it is:

Some vegans probably won't agree with the message in this video, but I think it's totally true, and it's something we should all consider when introducing veganism to non-vegan family members and friends. Unnatural Vegan's message works super well in conjunction with the points I've made in this post.

To summarise Unnatural Vegan's points, most people who eat meat aren't evil. They just don't think the way vegans do. But that can change. I imagine most vegans - including myself - find it impossible to fathom the idea of eating or using animals ever again. We don't understand how anyone could ever want to. And, as someone who hasn't eaten meat since I was six years old, I find the idea of seeing animals as food even more difficult to comprehend. But most vegans ate meat at some point in their life, and most vegans took a while to fully transition into an animal product-free lifestyle. What I'm saying is: the majority of people care about animals and have the potential to be vegan. In most cases all they need is some education, friendly encouragement, and time to reconsider everything they've been taught about animal agriculture. Then, the path to veganism will be the obvious choice to take.

"Veganism isn't hard. It takes getting used to, sure, but it's not hard at all, and if you do it properly you'll never want to go back. Make sure your friends and family members know this."

So the best way to help your family and friends become vegan is to be friendly, helpful and encouraging. Appeal to their best interests. Understand that they probably do care about animals and probably don't really want to eat them. They just need to be made aware of all of the delicious, healthy, fulfilling and nutritionally sound alternatives. Cook for them and show them how awesome vegan food can be, or take them to your favourite vegan restaurant. Perhaps more importantly, make sure they know that the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Dietitians of Canada have all certified veganism as appropriate for all stages of the human life-cycle (including during pregnancy, infancy and old age). [source 1, 2, 3]

Veganism isn't hard. It takes getting used to, sure, but it's not hard at all, and if you do it properly you'll never want to go back. Make sure your friends and family members know this. I know it can be difficult sometimes, but try to be understanding. Support and actively encourage any tinge of interest your family members and friends may show. Take any opportunity to educate. Help them realise how amazing veganism actually is. It's getting easier by the day - more and more vegan options are popping up in restaurants and supermarket chains around the world. Now is a great time to act. Make a difference in the world, and help someone you love become vegan today!