2011: The Year of Veganism?
Something must be in the water – or the meat… It appears that veganism has begun to spread beyond granola-lovers in San Francisco and New York to the meat industry’s prime base – The American South.
Texan celebrity Jessica Simpson celebrated a “tofurkey” Thanksgiving with her vegan fiancé and former NFL player Eric Johnson in November. Former President Bill Clinton (an Arkansas native), who famously took reporters on jogs to a McDonald’s breakfast while serving in the White House, announced a “near-vegan” diet to ensure that he would live to see his future grandchildren. His daughter Chelsea celebrated her wedding with a vegan and gluten-free reception last summer.
With health advocates, environmentalists, and even the United Nations advocating plant-based diets, it’s little surprise that more consumers are reconsidering that Big Mac. But what would it take to turn America’s Dixieland, with all of its fried chicken and Waffle Houses, into mainstream vegan?
One southern vegan blogger writes: Here in the South a person who doesn’t eat meat is looked at with a certain level of puzzlement, if not outright disdain. And any southerner east of the Mississippi who doesn’t consume large amounts of pork BBQ is often considered a threat to society.
Yes, a threat to society! This is why southern star power like Jessica Simpson and Bill Clinton is so important. It takes awareness, a change in stereotypes, and especially the mainstream media attention that comes with celebrity. The fact is that vegans are not just ultra liberal, tree hugging, anti-consumers (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). Vegans come from all backgrounds and choose to make this lifestyle switch for many reasons.
Feeling sick? Veganism is a cholestoral-free, hormone-free diet that reduces the risk of major illness, including heart disease and cancer.
Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Livestock causes 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Rainforests have been clear-cut to make way for grazing cattle. Overfishing has resulted in diminished fish populations throughout the world. In fact, National Geographic and Time magazine have each recently published extensive articles on the impacts of meat-based diets on the environment.
Want to help end world hunger? Meat-based diets require as much as 20 times the amount of land for food production as plant based diets. Some studies estimate that even a 10% drop in U.S. meat consumption would provide sufficient food to feed the millions of people starving in the world.
Want to save money? Vegetables and beans are much less expensive than meat.
The more people who choose to pursue a plant-based diet, the easier it will be to follow for all of us non-cooking, restaurant-goers. Who knows, maybe 2011 will be the year of the Vegan Fastfood Restaurant. Jessica Simpson’s fiance certainly hopes so.