In recent times, veganism has become normal and mainstream – to an extent that I used to think was a mere pipe dream.
Veganism is regularly in the news – whether talking about new vegan products, new reports into the health aspects of plant-based eating, or indeed the environmental impact of animal farming.
This is especially prevalent among young people. A recent survey by vegan company BOL Foods found that 44 percent of young people (aged 18 – 24) think that veganism is 'cooler than smoking'; in addition, a YouGov poll found that one in five young people believe that the future is meat-free. But what is behind this rise in interest from young people?
Well, according to a poll for The Grocer, 38 percent of young adults say that they have sustainability concerns about meat production – the same poll also found that four percent of them were already vegetarian or vegan.
And it is no wonder. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week released a report stating that the Earth is, in no uncertain terms, doomed if we continue as we are.
Of the recommendations for consumers in the report, the most significant was to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy products. After all, around 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to animal farming - this is more than all motorized transport combined.
So, naturally, the younger generations who have to live on this planet in the future will want to preserve it for them, and any future generations.
Threat to meat industry
And this is reflected in their habits when it comes to buying food and eating out.
A report released in September 2018 by market researchers, Mintel, focusing on burger and chicken restaurants, says that millennials are the 'biggest threat' to burger and chicken restaurants because they are seeking more plant-based options, rather than meat. Is this a sign of the future?
The experts seem to think so. Food service Analyst, Trish Caddy explains: "Operators now need to tackle this issue by offering consumers more varied choice, including vegan burgers."
On top of this, a report by GlobalData suggests that as much as 70 percent of the world's population is said to be either reducing meat consumption or ditching it all together, and who is spearheading this? You guessed it - young people.
"The shift toward plant-based food is being driven by millennials, who are most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues, and environmental impacts when making their purchasing decisions," said Fiona Dyer, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.
So the generation that is often accused of being lazy, self-entitled and selfish, is arguably the complete opposite. As the generation of people who have to live with the decisions of today, they are actively taking measures to ensure that there is a planet worth living on in the future, and that there is as little animal suffering as possible.
Hardly selfish, am I right?