Not long ago, veganism was completely unconventional. Anyone who identified as a vegan was immediately categorized as a hippy or extremist instead of an everyday person who just wanted to live more compassionately. Back then, meat- and dairy-free products weren’t quite as accessible or even that appetizing, but now, that’s all changing. More and more people—from celebrities and professional athletes to your next-door neighbor—are seeing the benefits of shifting away from consuming and using animal products. Veganism may not be entirely mainstream just yet, but there are a number of signs that demonstrate its far-reaching impact on industries and society in general. The year 2019 may have been dubbed the “Year of the Vegan,” but here are eight reasons why we’re convinced 2020 will be the most vegan year yet.
1. The plant-based product category is growing faster than any other food sector.
In the last year, sales of vegan food grew five times faster than total retail food sales in the United States, according to data released by the Good Food Institute and Plant Based Food Association—and we will see this growth continue. While overall food sales haven’t changed much, plant-based products are flying off the shelves as consumers become aware of the important reasons to shift from animal-based foods to plant foods—among them, helping the environment, boosting your health, and saving animals.
2. More professional athletes are becoming plant-strong.
An army of top athletes, including Olympic weightlifters, martial artists, and professional football players are now vegan and aren’t even remotely worried about getting enough protein in their diet. The documentary Game Changers is currently having a huge impact on people’s perception of veganism and athletic performance. We can’t wait to see more champs make the switch in 2020.
3. Vegan celebrities are using their status to tell it like it is.
Celebrity vegan advocates like Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus, and Joaquin Phoenix don’t shy away from pushing every reason to go plant-based. Many of them share hard truths about factory farming and animal cruelty with their millions of followers via social media, which inevitably influences popular culture. The more they continue to speak up, the more we will listen.
4. Major corporations are investing in plant-based foods.
The majority of the largest companies in the world are now working to increase the availability of sustainable plant-based proteins on the market. In fact, 41 percent of meat and dairy producers are creating their own plant-based products or acquiring or investing in other vegan food companies, according to a recent report. Their commitment to expand vegan offerings means vegan food will become more affordable and accessible in the coming year.
5. Vegan meat is going mainstream.
Just look around any major supermarket or fast-food chain and you’ll likely spot a meat-like vegan burger from brands like Beyond Meat, Lightlife, or Impossible Foods. In fact, Impossible Foods was among the top five fastest growing brands in the United States this year. And with other vegan meat companies jumping in with their own innovative options, we wouldn’t be surprised if they soon take over the entire meat aisle of supermarkets.
6. Beauty brands are removing animal testing from their processes.
There are more animal-friendly cosmetics on the market than ever before. Major brands such as CoverGirl are making a commitment to end animal testing on their products. Plus, a growing number of states are banning animal testing altogether, which makes our vegan hearts sing. As more consumers learn about and demand vegan and cruelty-free options, we expect to see more brands making the necessary adjustments in their ingredients and processes.
7. Fur and leather are becoming fashion trends of the past.
Similarly, we’re seeing leading fashion brands say goodbye to animal-based materials like leather and fur in favor of cruelty-free alternatives such as synthetic fur made from recycled plastic bottles and plant leather made from cactus and pineapples. Now that consumers are learning about the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, these ethical and sustainable alternatives are becoming in vogue.
8. It’s everywhere on social media.
The rise of veganism is due, in part, to the influence of social media. People now look to brands and notable online influencers for information about the world around them. As vegans continue to swarm our Instagram feeds with vibrant food photos and the vegan hashtag, people are seeing and listening to the vegan message which, in turn, is impacting their everyday choices. We have no doubt #vegan will trend even more in 2020.
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***Nicole Axworthy is a Toronto-based writer and author of the vegan cookbook DIY Vegan.