The ‘Trendy’ Word: Vegan.
Feel like veganism is becoming more and more apparent? That’s because it is. I wanted to discover the logic behind ‘food trends’ and how social media and journalism creates food movements online.
Veganism has become increasingly popular online. There is significantly more vegan coverage within the news, alongside more prominence on social media through that of influencers and celebrities. A-list celebrities like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Madonna and Zac Efron have announced their plant based diets, even Beyoncé trialled the diet for 22 days and urged her followers to join alongside her. Although the increasing amount of vegan coverage cannot be denied, are the presumed health benefits making people talk about veganism, or are more people switching to the no-meat, no-dairy diet just because everyone else is? Has veganism become a trend?
Are the vegans taking over?
What was once a unique movement, has now become so mainstream that companies have been forced to bring out vegan products. Vegan food has now become more accessible than ever before, as these various companies have jumped on the vegan trend that seems to be lasting.
Ranging from KFC’s “love vegan burger” to Pizza Hut’s “veggie pepperphoni pizza”, major fast food companies have noticed the shift and jumped on the vegan wagon, introducing new vegan alternatives for their customers. Alongside veganism, vegetarianism has become increasingly popular- are we all just more conscious to cut down our consumption of meat?
According to Vegan Life, veganism is the “fastest growing lifestyle movement.” With over half a million people committing to a vegan diet in the UK, 542,000 people in Britain are now never consuming any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey. This is an increase of over 350% since the last estimate of 150,000 people ten years ago.
“Veganism booms by 350%” — Vegan Life
“The public perception of veganism is changing fast. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible- walk into any supermarket and you’re greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and other vegan-friendly products.” — Keith Coomber, publishing director of Vegan Life magazine
Now almost half way through the month of January, I have seen on social media that people are taking part in the Veganuary campaign. Within the month of January, to start the year, many people take part in Veganuary. This campaign was launched in the UK in 2014, supported by wide range of social media, where people try the plat-based diet throughout the month and hopefully beyond.
Linkfluence released a social data research in which they collated a tag cloud of hashtags to show the rise of vegans on social media. Below is their collated hashtags they found on social media to show the rise of veganism and plant-based diets:
So, why is veganism appearing on social media?
- The movement is controversial and the question arises: is veganism healthful or harmful? There is a lot of speculation regarding the health benefits of veganism, and whether the diet is sustainable. Many people believe that the diet is extreme, thinking that there are better, less extreme ways, to live a healthier lifestyle. Many people disregard the diet automatically as they are unaware of the meat alternatives. No meat, fish, eggs, cheese- what is there left to eat? Should I not wear leather? Should I use cruelty-free products? Isn’t this diet terribly inconvenient? Here are some headlines I found from leading newspapers which discuss the controversy regarding veganism:
These articles include quotes such as “the approach seems particularly risking during pregnancy and for the very young” and “a shift towards a radically plant-based planetary diet loses the many benefits of livestock — including its deployment on land that is not suitable for crop production, its contribution to livelihoods, and the many other benefits that animals provide.”
2. The movement is lead by young people. Due to the rise of social media and young influencers, it has consequently become a platform where people turn to for information. Follow a 2018 study, Dyer comments:
“the shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by the millennials.” — Fiona Dyer, Consumer Analyst at Global Data
YouTube and Instagram are two of the online platforms that are full of influencers who promote veganism and give off a certain lifestyle that seems appealing to others.
Through Instagram, it has become clear that a vegan diet can be fun, delicious and not restrictive. Vegan chefs, both professional and amateurs, show off their colourful vegan food which looks enticing and delicious. Visual platforms like YouTube and Instagram has created a rise in veganism, due to the sheer amount of people that are using these apps within our digital age. Social media has shown us that the vegan community can be interesting as well as enjoyable.
“The reasonings behind the rise of veganism are numerous: the positive portrayal in the media has contributed to its changing image; documentaries on the shocking realities and consequences of animal agriculture have gained prominence; delicious-looking vegan recipes have multiplied online and on social media as society becomes increasingly health conscious; and top vegan athletes keep proving that you can be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet.”
Can veganism fit into journalism?
Digital media has undeniably transformed the vegan movement. As many people are becoming much more informed about the world around them due to social media, it ultimately impacts their choices and people subconsciously influence others.
“Gone are the days when distribution channels only consisted of large media outlets such as TV channels and physical newspapers, where the content was controlled by a few people and driven by the advertising industry. Now, individuals can decide what information to put out there, creating a world where previously pushed aside ideologies and social justice issues can come to the forefront.” — Katie Pevreall on Live Kindly
As journalism is changing and is now intertwined with social media, it helps contribute to the rising word ‘vegan’. Whether individuals take this movement as positive or negative, it is very much apparent and is contributing to our changing digital world.
Has vegan coverage within social media tempted you to attempt Veganuary?