Is it just me, or does the Vegan population seem to be exploding at a rapid rate right now? It seems like there are more and more Vegan options in the grocery store every time I visit. There must be much more demand for Vegan options if companies are increasing their Vegan offerings like this, right? Let’s see if we can analyze this somehow.
Google Trends is an interesting tool we can use to see if people are indeed getting more interested in Veganism. We search for the term “Vegan” in Google Trends and set the date to the longest we’re allowed to, January 1st, 2004 til now, November 12th, 2019.
To read this graph is pretty easy. 100 refers to the most popular the term has ever been in Google searches. It looks like the peak time for Vegan searches was in July 2017. Right now the trend number is 99. We’re almost at an all-time high! If we look at the line graph since the beginning, it’s on a steady uphill climb overall. It definitely looks like Vegan searching is on the long-term rise. It’s logical to assume that the Vegan population is growing, which is leading to an increase in Vegan search terms.
Estimated Vegan Population at 6% in the United States (2019)
According to a recent article from veganbits.com (updated on October 27th, 2019) it’s estimated that 6% of the United States population is Vegan. This is an enormous increase from a previous study in 2016 where only 0.5% of the United States population was estimated to be Vegan. Now we can see why Vegan products are getting more and more shelf space. The Vegan population is indeed growing, and it’s growing exponentially!
Why Is Vegan Popularity on the Rise?
More studies, documentaries, and books are coming out all the time about how beneficial a plant-based diet is. The three main reasons people are turning to a plant-based diet are for the environment, for health benefits, and for the animals.
For the Environment
This article from the Oxford Academic states that Veganism has the lowest carbon footprint of every major diet. Vegan is the lowest at rating 1, then vegetarian 1.1, and pescatarian 1.9. The highest footprint ratings were omnivore 2.3, paleo 2.8, and keto was the highest of all at 4.2.
Animal agriculture is not sustainable. It takes too much land to grow crops to feed all of the livestock. It’s also a leading cause of global warming from the high amounts of nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide it produces.
26% of the Earth’s land is used for grazing livestock, while another 33% of the land is used to grow livestock feed (source: OneGreenPlanet). That means almost 60% of all of the Earth’s land is used for animal agriculture. That’s too much! It’s not sustainable. Rainforests are being burned back everyday to make more land for animal agriculture. Rainforests are climate regulators, and we need them more than ever right now! This quote from NationalGeographic explains the impact of losing rainforests: “Rainforest loss is a double-whammy for the climate: It contributes emissions while removing a future potential source of carbon storage.”
There is an eye-opening article published in August 2019 from npr.org – To Slow Global Warming, U.N. Warns Agriculture Must Change. It explains that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half within the next decade to avoid irreversible impacts on some ecosystems. In the article there is a quote explaining how the significance of reducing meat consumption would affect us: “The World Resource Institute estimates that if people in the U.S. and other heavy meat-eating countries reduced their consumption of beef (and other meat from ruminants) to about 1.5 burgers per person, per week, it would nearly eliminate the need for additional agricultural expansion (and associated deforestation), even in a world with 10 billion people.
Check out “Cowspiracy” if you haven’t seen it yet. It could very well blow your mind! More people are becoming aware of the negative effects of animal agriculture on our beloved Earth, thus leading to an increase of the Vegan population.
For Health Benefits
According to this clinical trial study where participants switched to a plant-based diet consisting of raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and avocados for 4 weeks, they noticed drastic improvements in their overall health. The study led to this conclusion: “A defined plant‐based diet can be used as an effective therapeutic approach in the clinical setting in the treatment of HTN, hypercholesterolemia, and other cardiovascular risk factors while simultaneously reducing overall medication usage. Patients may find this therapeutic approach preferable to conventional and costly drug therapy. Further replication trials are needed with larger sample sizes, control groups, and other dietary comparison groups.“
What about the Keto diet, it’s healthy right?
The Keto diet is super popular these days. People seem to be able to lose weight at a rapid pace with the Keto diet. This diet is low on carbohydrates and high on fats and proteins. A person on a Keto diet eats mostly meat and dairy, limiting fruits and vegetables, while eliminating grains. In the short-term this diet can lead to weight-loss, but in the long term this diet is putting massive damage on the body.
Animal-based products contain high amounts of LDL cholesterol (saturated fats) which have been shown to increase plaque in arteries leading to heart disease. They’ve also been linked to increase risk of diabetes and cancers. Since someone on the Keto diet eats animal products as their main food source, they’re adding dangerous amounts of bad cholesterol (LDL / saturated fats). If this person keeps up this diet for the long term, the results could be tragic due to much higher increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Is any Vegan diet healthy?
No! Junk-food that doesn’t contain animal-products is still detrimental to a human’s health because it often contains trans-fats, which are another form of LDL cholesterol. Trans-fats are even considered worse than saturated fats from animal products (animal products contain small amounts of trans-fats also!) because they lower good cholesterol called HDL, while raising bad cholesterol. Imagine how much damage you’re doing to your body if you’re regularly consuming animal-products AND junk-food.
Heart.org says that trans-fats can be found in many fried foods, like doughnuts. They’re also found in many baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and many types of hard margarine. Look for “0 g trans fat” and no hydrogenated oils on ingredient lists of food labels to limit your trans-fats!
A plant-based diet can be very healthy though if the diet is fairly balanced, and trans-fats are avoided or limited. Someone who eats a healthy plant-based diet can reverse previous damage done to their bodies and even cure existing ailments, as shown in this clinical trial.
For the Animals
Definition of Veganism: Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
It’s obvious that animals are killed in order to provide meat. What’s not so obvious to many people are the brutally tragic conditions that farm animals must endure through their lives to provide humans with meat and by-products like milk and eggs. We’re led to believe that animals are free-range and live a good life before they are humanely killed. It’s simply not the case.
Humane slaughter is an oxymoron. It doesn’t make sense. Even if an animal doesn’t feel pain when murdered, it’s not humane. Humane is defined as: “marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals“. Killing an animal when it’s not necessary is NOT humane. It’s not being compassionate, sympathetic, or considerate to the animals. Just think about it, would you want to be humanely killed, or would you rather live? These animals want to live. No matter how people try to justify animal slaughter, it is not humane.
There are many graphic videos you can watch to see how bad the conditions are for farm animals, who have feelings just like you and me. Check out Dominion and/or Earthlings if you want to see how farm animals are treated. It is truly sad and disgusting how they’re enslaved, with babies stolen from mothers, and their lives are cut short when they’re murdered.
The truth is that no animal deserves to be killed, when it’s unnecessary. We don’t need to consume their products to survive and even thrive. We are healthier WITHOUT eating animal products. Any nutrient we are missing from not consuming animal products can easily be supplemented, or is in Vegan fortified products, like Vegan milks for example. Take a daily multivitamin and don’t worry about it! More people are becoming aware that it’s not necessary to consume animal products, and that’s a key factor as to why the Vegan population is growing. My favorite film right now is a newly released one called “The Game Changers“. It’s an excellent fun-watch documentary showcasing athletes who eat plant-based diets.
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