Once a concept that was nearly unheard of with the exception of those who were required to alter their diets due to specific medical reasons or to account for food-related allergies, the number of vegans and vegetarians in the United States has been increasingly making it one of the fastest growing food-related trends in the country. In fact, the research company GlobalData released a report called ‘Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017’ in which they identified that veganism has grown approximately 500% since 2014!
The report identified 6 important trends currently being witnessed in the United States today. The top trend was the fact that Americans are increasingly cutting meat from their diets. The report stated, “Rising veganism and awareness of the impact of meat consumption are driving demand for meat-free products substitutes.” Today, more than ever before, meat-substitutes are being used both for the health benefits that have been identified in relation to eating a plant-free diet, as well as due to the increased amount of information being made available to highlight the impact of raising and slaughtering animals for food in large numbers as is done on commercial farms.
Furthermore, the report identifies ‘ethical eating’ as the 6th trend in 2017. Americans are taking the time to identify where their food is being produced and the way in which the animals are being treated. As the report explains, “Consumers connect ethical and sustainable lifestyles with wellbeing and wellness, creating demand for more ethical prepared foods.”
Not only is this shift associated with a large number of health benefits, resulting in lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and a decreased risk of heart attacks among others. The change in eating habits has also spared the lives of an incredible number of animals. According to The Humane Society of the United States, overall meat consumptions has dropped a total of 10%, making a significant impact on the number of animals raised and slaughtered within the country. Paul Shapiro, Vice President, Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States advised, “What that means is that compared to 2007, last year almost half a billion fewer animals were subjected to the torment of factory farming and industrial slaughter plants and that’s despite the increase in the U.S. population.”
The impact can be seen in the foods that are available to use today. More grocery stores are carrying a selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly foods including a number of different meat-substitute options. Companies are beginning to make changes to keep themselves relevant. One example is that of Elmhurst Dairy in Queens New York, one of the largest dairy manufacturers on the East Coast. Recognizing the shift in the American diet the company has had a shift of their own with the release of their own range of healthy plant-based milk.
One can’t help but be proud of the country that we live in as they continue to move towards healthier, sustainable, environmentally friendly choices in their everyday lives.