Veganism is growing throughout the world, particularly the Western world. As the planet becomes more health-conscious, vegan food is becoming increasingly appealing. Ethically-sourced food is now much demanded and almost every supermarket today accommodates vegan-friendly products.
This does not necessarily mean that everyone who purchases them is a vegan. Indeed, there are many meat-eaters and carnivores who browse this section, too. This is much to the disgruntlement of the ‘Militant Vegan’, who represent a special brand of veganism, labelling anyone who eats meat as a murderous devil on par with Hitler himself, screaming about the evils of milk, and attending chicken vigils in a bid to quench their mourning for the crimes we callous meat-eaters commit when we boil an egg.
It’s almost as if they don’t realise that their fanatical zealousness about veganism is the very thing that puts people off from being vegan in the first place.
But if we ignore the psychopaths and extremists, there are a lot of decent vegans around who respect the fact that we all have a choice and acknowledge that eating livestock, particularly when the animal has been reared comfortably and killed humanely, is certainly not a crime. Very few meat-eaters would agree with inhumane killing or any form of cruelty committed towards the animal during its life, which is why standards of ethical rearing are being raised so high. What’s more, they are genuinely interested in vegan foods, and not just for ethical reasons.
Plant-based diets can indeed lead to a healthier lifestyle. More vegetables, more grains, less dairy, less red and processed meat. This is not to say that packaged vegan food is necessarily a healthier option; a “vegan pie” in the stores may be loaded with a whole host of other unhealthy stuff even if it doesn’t have any meat or dairy in it.
Vegan cheese is another one that has caught people’s eye over the years; it is usually made of a nut such as cashews or almonds and, when made correctly, can taste almost as good as (if not better than) the real thing. Because of the general health benefits surrounding plant-based diets, more people are including them in their diet. They may enjoy a salmon fillet loaded with vegetables and a drizzle of avocado oil; or perhaps a plate of quinoa with a fillet steak or turkey breast.
The problem is that eating well costs money – a lot of money. Yes, vegetables and fruit are cheap, but one cannot live on them alone. Wholefoods, arguably the healthiest supermarket in the UK, is extraordinarily expensive; meanwhile, supermarkets down the cheaper end of the scale tend to stock a wealth of unhealthy products.
Yes, it is our job to take responsibility for what we eat; but not everyone has the willpower to resist that microwavable burger and reach for the broccoli. It must come to the point where the state helps us in this area and allows healthy food to become more accessible and affordable. We do not need to become a ‘nation of vegans’ as some vegans are braying for; we simply need to be a nation of health and well-being.