Vegan Decisions: to V or not to V?

Vegan Decisions: to V or not to V?

According to fresh research from the Vegan Society released yesterday, there are now 542,000 plant munching vegans in Britain today and that represents an increase of over 350% since the last research was done a decade ago. Actually, make that 542,002 because they never got around to asking me or Simon and we’re right on board with it.

That’s one seriously fast rolling ‘lifestyle movement’, as the journos like to say.

Ipsos MORI spoke to around 10,000 people aged 15+ across England, Scotland and Wales. Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society said, “More people than ever before are acting upon the health and environmental benefits of veganism and finding out what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries and deciding they do not want to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals,”

The demographics make for interesting reading. Apparently, a great many vegans live in urban or suburban areas (88%) compared with rural areas (12%). This is particularly evident in London, which holds the trophy for being home to 22% of all the vegans in Britain.

As a recent convert to a full-on plant based diet at 50, I must confess, I wish I’d made the shift years ago, but there’s little point beating myself up about it. While we’re on that topic, if you’re still sitting on the other side of the restaurant munching meat but looking for a reason to move, you shouldn’t either – regret is futile and self-destructive. I think there are so many factors that steal our minutes and cloud our vision when we’re busy getting on with life. The thing is, if you do go vegan, you’re more likely to have a longer one and that’s a mighty fine reason to migrate. I do recognise that making a proper commitment to this level of lifestyle change requires some serious thinking time and lots of cups of tea. You also need reliable information to nudge you towards that tipping point, as you contemplate filtering every morsel that passes your lips.

For me, Cowspiracy, the documentary by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn was that final kick in the rump and as I’ve been a passionate environmentalist for a very long time, I’m almost ashamed to say some of the hard facts about the animal agriculture industry had evaded me. In hindsight, I think I’ve done what many others do; I occupied myself fighting the anti-fracking, no to Trident and fossil fuel battles amongst many other things. To be honest, the list of globally important, worthy and necessary fights is incredibly long.

I am aware of the knockers Kip and Keegan have had since Cowspiracy was released, with some casting doubt on a variety of facts stated in the film including the figures about the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, as they decided to include the exhaled breath of the animals that are being reared and of course, they included the methane from their fart output – some say this took things to the extreme, but the simple facts remain: if they weren’t being reared for consumption, the numbers wouldn’t be so high. Fair play to them for putting a page together to rebuke the mudslinging, which is available for all aspiring new vegans to read on the Cowspiracy website.

In a subsequent cut of the original documentary, Leonardo Di Caprio put his weight behind this life affirming 90-minute watch and that has undoubtedly increased its cool quotient and probably helped to raise it’s appeal to young, funky humans: not defining us older ones as being un-funky of course, but 42% of all vegans are between 15 and 34 years old. These figures indicate one of two distinct possibilities (a) there is indeed an enormous boost in this sector of the market which makes for a growing population who will have far less health problems in the future, or, (b) folks over the age of 34 when asked to complete the survey told the enquirer to piss off because they couldn’t be arsed. Frankly, both are possible.

I think this proper big stick in the sand significantly marks a non-violent eating boom that is only set to continue and with new magazines emerging like Vegan Food & Living which sits on the shelves of Waitrose and the like, there are inevitably going to be far more vegan products available in supermarkets. NB: don’t forget your lovely independent health food shops. If the big boys monopolise this, as they do with all emerging markets, our friendly high street shops won’t be able to compete and they’ll be knocked out of business.

Whatever action or event it was that tipped you over the edge and made you say a firm NO to animal foods or derivatives in your diet, I am delighted for you but if you’re a reader who’s still on the fence, have a serious think about why at least half a million people have made that decision, then watch Cowspiracy, talk to your vegan friends (you have more than you realise) and do some bloody research – I mean ‘bloody’ in the truest sense and I warn you now, it ain’t pretty.

Don’t end up 50 saying, ‘Crap, why didn’t I do it ages ago?’