The Rise of Veganism
As humans we consume a vast amount of meat and, whichever way you look at it, our carnivorous behavior has a negative effect on the environment. Although the depths of animal welfare and the act of eating meat might not be of interest to many, it is generally well known that we’re consuming meat at a much faster rate today, than our grandparents ever did. We also know that the process required to deliver meat on such a scale and so regularly, is riddled with questionable practices.
From the hormones given to cattle and other livestock, to sanitary procedures in the butchery, to the plastic involved to package it, to the refrigeration of fresh meat, it all adds up to an incredibly large carbon footprint and a drain on natural resources.
It’s for this reason that many people have chosen to cut down on their meat intake significantly. Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary gained a lot of traction earlier this year and consumer reports are showing incredible growth in the vegetarian and vegan market. Die-hard veggies will no doubt be muttering that it’s about time. But what’s become so inspiring, is how accessible vegetarian and vegan alternatives have become. No longer are we staring down a dodgy Quorn and black pepper steak, but feasting on vibrant, enticing, recognisable foods that are made with serious attention to detail. It’s telling that the big supermarkets have invested heavily in everything from vegan pizza brands, to increasing veggie fare in their ready-to-eat sandwich lines. We have seen the vegetarian and vegan sections expanding rapidly.
The restaurant industry is also steamrollering ahead with increased offering on veggie and vegan menus. Before now, Yotam Ottolenghi was the only chef with a mainstream reputation for celebrating vegetables. Today, many of his former cooks have gone on to open game changing-restaurants all over London, like Scully and Bala Baya.
There are also several places taking popular street foods vegan. Beezlebab Kitchen in Brighton has gained a huge following for its vegan ‘junk food’, like hotdogs and kebabs and in London, Mexicana knocks out a range of highly lauded vegan tacos.
Even the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have segued into the heady world of food and drink innovation. The Impossible Burger is a burger that not only looks and tastes like a high quality beef burger, but also has the same texture and even ‘bleeds’ when cooked medium rare! The burger has been celebrated by some of the most carnivorous of US chefs like David Chang of Momofuku and even appears on the menu at chains like Umami Burger.
Another Silicon Valley product that could revolutionise the industry is Just Egg. This is a scrambled egg substitute that is made from mung beans and is reported to scramble and taste exactly like real eggs. Just Egg are currently about to expand into Europe.
You don't have to cut out meat completely to reduce your environmental impact from eating. As Leonardo DiCaprio said in his eco-documentary "Before the Flood", even cutting your weekly beef consumption by half or a quarter will have a significant positive effect on the environment. Chicken farming takes only 20% of the land required to farm beef and produces only 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions. A switch to chicken is a huge leap in the right direction.
Whether you’re embracing Meat Free Mondays, deciding to only eat meat when you dine out, or cutting out meat and dairy all together, there’s never been a better, or easier time to do so than now. With restaurants, supermarkets and large-scale food innovators devoting attention to all things plant based, now is the time to give it a go, reduce your carbon footprint, and discover some delicious, healthy new meals.