Just ten years ago, vegans were ridiculed for being extremists. Now they are quickly becoming mainstream consumers. There are over 16 million vegans and vegetarians in America. There are also many more Americans who consider themselves “flexitarians” or people who will sometimes eat meat or animal products but are mainly vegan or vegetarian. There are many reasons for this growing trend in American food choice.
More Environmental Concerns
Americans are more aware of how important it is to conserve natural resources like land and water. Growing livestock, even for egg-laying chickens or dairy cows, uses up more resources than plant-based foods. It takes lots of land and water to grow the food that livestock need to eat. This is an indirect way for people to get food. Plant-based diets are a more direct way for people to get food from the little available farmland that remains.
More Kids With Food Allergies
More American children than ever are being diagnosed with food allergies. Milk and eggs are two of the most common food allergens. Although many kids eventually outgrow their food allergies, they need to get through their childhoods first. Egg and milk free food alternatives helps not only those with food allergies, but their family, friends and schools that have kids with food allergies to feed. Some people wind up preferring the vegan versions of foods even when it is safe for them to eat what they used to be allergic to. Foods we eat in childhood tend to produce a warm nostalgia in adults.
More Concerns About Food Safety
More produced and packaged foods are being recalled for health and safety reasons, from being contaminated with salmonella or E. coli or containing materials like glass. A few years ago, horse meat was sold in the UK as beef. This shocked many people into wondering just what they are putting into their mouths. Vegan versions of foods like mayonnaise and salad dressings tend not to spoil as quickly as their conventional versions with eggs.
More Availability Than Ever
Twenty years ago it was difficult to find any healthy vegan foods at a local supermarket. Now Americans can easily find Hampton Creek products in Target, Walmart or Costco. Many grocery chains have organic and health food sections featuring vegetarian and vegan foods. This makes even a carnivore curious about other tastes, prompting a purchase.