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2017: The Year Of Veganism?

Is the new vegan craze a trend or a fad?

Epic Burgers On A Vegan Diet?

Twenty years ago you couldn't find anyone that even knew what the vegan diet was. Fast forward to 2017 and the vegan diet is the hottest thing in food around the globe.

To be be clear, veganism is much more than just eating a plant based diet. For the purposes of this article, we will use the words interchangeably. A lot of people embracing the vegan diet are also embracing veganism and it's hard to determine the exact percentage.

You may have heard of vegetarians before but have no idea what a vegan is. Basically, you just take all of the milk, cheese, and eggs away from a vegetarian and you have a vegan. If it had a face or came from something that had a face, vegans do not eat it.

Google Search Popularity For "Vegan" Over Time

Courtesy Of Google Trends

If you look at the Google search statistics for the word "vegan" you will see that it took from January 2004 to January 2014 for the interest to double. It doubled again in only two years from January 2014 to December 2016. The vegan diet and plant based lifestyle have reached a tipping point in the U.S. and around the word.

This exploding interest in the vegan diet is happening for a couple of reasons.

  1. We are a planet of unhealthy, overweight people.
  2. Vegan food creations are becoming so palatable that even meat lovers can enjoy them.

Facts About Our Health

In the U.S. alone over 66% of the population is obese with a Body Mass Index of higher than 25. If you're thinking the U.S. is at the top of the scale, think again. There are 26 countries with higher obesity rates than America with Tonga and Samoa topping the list at an astonishing 85% obesity rate.

The fact that a vegan diet is the best treatment for obesity is now common knowledge in most of the civilized world. It's something I think we all instinctively knew all along. At the very least we knew that eating more plants was better than eating less.

Plant Based Diets Prevent Disease

Now the science is coming in at a rapid pace showing time and time again the power of a plant based diet. Everyone from your doctor to the news anchor on TV is telling you that you need to eat more plants to be healthy. Even if they don't come right out and say go vegan the underlying message is there.

The problem has been getting a meat lover to stop grilling burgers and start grilling Tofu. I'll confess that I hate Tofu and I have been vegan for three years. Even when it's cooked right by someone who really knows what they are doing it is still barely tolerable to me. You can imagine how likely it is that a big manly meat eater will put the steak down and grab a cube of Tofu.

New Vegan Foods

Science is catching up with demand for vegan foods that will satisfy the taste of meat lovers. There are a couple of companies in particular who are making burgers so realistic that it's nearly impossible to know it isn't beef. The Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger so incredibly close to the real thing that many vegans won't even touch them.

Realistic Vegan "Beef" Patties

Vegan Meat So Realistic That It "Bleeds", Courtesy of Serious Eats

These mad scientists have found a way to duplicate the heme iron in beef using plant heme. Add a little color magic you have a fatty, bloody burger that is made completely from plant ingredients.

These innovations are making it easier for the average meat lover that is debating a vegan diet to give it a try. If you have a delicious meat alternative as a crutch it sure makes all of those veggies easier to swallow.

As a vegan who wants to see the entire world adopt a vegan diet I am in favor of anything that helps the average person make the decision to give this way of eating a try. Even if it isn't good for them it will be good for the animals and good for the planet. 

Is it healthy?

This is the real question. Are these people that are switching to a vegan diet full of processed foods actually eating healthier?

That's a question that is hard to answer with complete accuracy. In the sense that they are getting less saturated fat and less dietary cholesterol sure, they are eating healthier. Unfortunately the other nutritional content of these vegan "FrankenFoods" can often be just as bad as their animal counterparts.

As a vegan who wants to see the entire world adopt a vegan diet I am in favor of anything that helps the average person make the decision to give this way of eating a try. Even if it isn't good for them it will be good for the animals and good for the planet. 

Photo Courtesy CNN

The single greatest contributor to climate change is factory farming practices. Anything we can do to save the planet is a step to saving ourselves.

Is 2017 the year of the vegan? I'm not sure if that's accurate but it's certainly the year of vegan as a buzzword and catalyst for corporate interest.

Check back in five years and we'll evaluate where this has gotten us.

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