Vegetarian diets have been a mainstay within the Eastern part of the world for thousands of years for cultural, religious, and scientific reasons. While the benefits of a vegetarian diet have been long understood, Eastern cultures are now realizing the benefits of also removing dairy from the vegetarian diet; a lifestyle known to the Western world as Veganism. In fact, many in the Western world are also rapidly shifting towards a vegan diet for reasons of health, weight loss, animal betterment, and an overall improvement in quality of life.

According to a report published in 2017, over 6% of the American population identifies themselves as vegan; a drastic increase from 2014, when only 1% of Americans did. This staggering 600% increase over 3 years demonstrates that the U.S. population is becoming increasingly aware of all the benefits that a plant-based vegan diet has to offer.

This trend has had a significant impact on the international culinary and food industry. Many vegan restaurants opening the world over to satisfy this global demand while vegan chefs like Jamie Oliver, Matthew Kenney, Chloe Coscarelli, and Rich Landau have gained celebrity status by demonstrating how delicious and creative plant-based vegan recipes can be. The vegan movement has proliferated cyberspace as well where one can find numerous vegan-based blogs, YouTube channels, cooking webinars, and articles.

A trip to Amazon or the local bookstore reveals thousands of books dedicated to vegan cooking. Books like Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and The Medical Medium by Anthony Williams have awakened millions of people to the benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle by advocating the remarkable health miracles that it has to offer. The vegan lifestyle not only promote good health and reduced environmental pollution, but also curbs animal cruelty and suffering. Food is the Solution- What to Eat to Save the World, authored by Matthew Prescott, Senior Food Policy Director for the Humane Society and a leader in the environmental food movement, shows how our plates have the power to protect animals and heal the world.

The impact of the vegan lifestyle is evident on today’s red carpet too where celebrities like Brad Pitt, Ellen DeGeneres and Natalie Portman advocate for the benefits of being vegan. Famous athletes like soccer player Jermain Defoe and tennis champion Venus Williams have adopted a vegan diet to boost their performance levels. Many professional bodybuilders like Kenneth G. Williams, Billy Simmonds, Jim Morris, and Patrik Baboumian have proven that world-class muscles can be built on a vegan diet.

The dairy industry has not been immune to the growing vegan consumer. As more health-conscious and aware consumers choose to purchase plant-based “milk” alternatives like almond milk, flax milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, the dairy industry is facing a significant decline in demand. Recent market research has found that the non-dairy milk market has had a 61% gross increase during the past six years. Companies like Kite Hill, Ripple, Almond Breeze, and So-Delicious have successfully pioneered this growing dairy-alternative segment.

Even world leaders have answered the call for a more healthy lifestyle. Former President Bill Clinton said, ”you have the responsibility to try and be as healthy as possible. I decided to pick a plant-based diet that will maximizes my changes of long term survival. You have to make a conscious decision to change for your well-being and that of your family and country.”

As more and more of the world’s population becomes aware of the profound benefits of the vegan lifestyle, the trend towards veganism will undoubtedly continue to grow. As a result, more people will enjoy a happier, healthier, and more compassionate life.

Photo taken from Harvard Magazine / Article: “The Rise of Vegan Culture”

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