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Vegan Goes Mainstream: The Diet Trend Finds Acceptance in the Community

Posted by Jessica Windell on

Break out the tempeh: It’s no longer weird to be vegan.

Until recently, the term “vegan” brought with it a negative connotation of bark-eating PETA-activists throwing red paint or frail self-righteous snobs who could afford it. Research suggests that even though 6% of the US population declare themselves “vegan,” about 36% of US consumers either prefer milk alternatives or use meat alternatives. Thankfully, this stigma is slowly giving way to the true benefits of a plant-based diet.

It's no longer weird to be vegan. 6% of the US population declare themselves Fully committing to a vegan lifestyle is still difficult – one must consider every product like clothing, shoes, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics. All of these areas are seeing growth in the retail sector, but the real explosion is within the food industry, as vegan goes mainstream.

Healthy eating has seen a meteoric rise over the last few years, and along with it the demand for plant-based alternatives to animal byproducts. The effects can be seen across grocery store shelves, quick service restaurants, and high-end establishments. Coffee giant Starbucks recently included a second dairy-free milk option, coconut milk, following the demand. Vegan fast casual chains like Native Foods and Veggie Grill are expanding their reach, and even long-established fast food joints are jumping on the band wagon with veggie burgers and sliders.

Another trend that’s aiding the plant-based diets is the popularity of “Meatless Mondays,” which caters toward consumers who may not commit to a vegan diet at all times, but rather are open to good vegan dishes. Meat simply isn’t required at all times anymore.

There’s also the understanding of where to get the proper nutrients. Animal meat is not the only source of protein. Getting the proper nutrients isn’t as hard as it once seemed, especially now that nutrient-dense foods are everywhere.

That’s really not a concern, though. A plant-based diet can be rich in protein without any animal products. Broccoli, spinach, chickpeas, and black beans are all great sources of protein, along with peanut butter and almond butter, of course.

Generationally-speaking, Millennials’ interests dovetail with the vegan trend. Small brands that tell a story, companies who focus on sustainability and environmental protection, and a focus on clean eating and wholesome ingredients are all important values young people consider when choosing a brand. Additionally, they are unafraid of trying bold flavors, international cuisines, and savory dishes — all of which plays into the vegan diet.

As nutritionists and medical professionals alike promote the benefits of eating less meat, and people are more open to new food options, the vegan diet will only continue to grow in popularity.