Every November — World Vegan Month — compassionate, health-conscious and environmentally friendly individuals revel in the growing interest in vegan living. And this month, there’s even more reason to celebrate. Both The Economist and Forbes predicted that 2019 would be the Year of the Vegan, and their proclamations have pretty much been on the mark. Vegans have been sprouting up all over, as more and more people become aware of the ethical and ecological ramifications of animal agriculture, as well as the health hazards of eating animal-based foods.

According to Veganuary, a charity that inspires people to go vegan for January and throughout the year, a quarter-million people in 190 countries pledged to go vegan in January 2019.

If you weren’t one of them — or you’re not already vegan — why not pledge to go vegan for World Vegan Month? You’ll improve your health, help stop animal suffering and combat climate change, all while expanding your culinary horizons. Researchers from Oxford Martin School believe that if everyone went vegan, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, avoid 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of climate-related damage, and save up to 8 million human lives (not to mention billions of animals) by 2050.

And you won’t be on your own if you give meat, eggs and dairy foods the boot. In 2017, 6% of Americans identified as vegan — an increase of 600% in just three years — and the number is likely even higher now. The new generation of “beefy” veggie burgers has been flying off supermarket shelves and restaurant griddles like the proverbial hot cakes. Americans spent $670 million on vegan meats from 2017 to 2018, and the food industry organization Dining Alliance found that sales of vegan meats in restaurants have increased by 268% over the past year. Sales will continue to skyrocket, according to UBS, a financial service company, which forecasts that the vegan meat market will grow by 28% a year and reach $85 billion by 2030.

A growing number of young people — including those who may be paying for their own meals by 2030 — have reason to rejoice this World Vegan Month. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation, began serving vegan meals in all of its schools in the 2018–19 school year. Other California schools, as well as schools in New York, Florida and Maine, have recently started offering vegan options, too.

Eating animal-based foods is old-school. Even meat companies — including Hormel and Smithfield Foods, the largest pig-killing company in the world — have launched lines of vegan meats. There’s a vegan fast-food war going on, too, with well-known companies trying to win customers over by introducing meat-free meals. And it’s working. KFC sold out of Beyond Meat vegan chicken, which it recently tested at a KFC near Atlanta, in just five hours.

Subway offered a Beyond Meatball Sub (made vegan by forgoing the cheese) at select locations in October, Mexican food chain Del Taco recently joined Chipotle in offering vegan meat options, and UNO Italian restaurants just added a vegan menu, complete with the Beyond Burger and Daiya vegan cheese on its pizza.

And that’s not all. Las Vegas-based vegan butcher NoButcher opened its first brick-and-mortar store on Oct. 19. It offers vegan turkey, bacon and pepperoni, along with vegan pulled pork and Mediterranean grilled vegetable sandwiches.

America is clearly hungry for change. Heck, thinking about all these vegan foods has left me famished. I plan to plant myself at a vegan-friendly restaurant (or two) this month. How about you?

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(23) comments

DickD

The rest of you can do what you want, I will continue to eat meat. And although cheese is made from an animal product, milk, I don't consider that the same as meat. For those of you going vegan, take vitamin B-12.

Alice Jones

The medical industrial complex thanks you for your continued financial support.

DickD

Not me, I almost never get sick, never missed work. It is the sickly ones eating only vegetables that keeps them busy. That and not exercising.

collinsm65

Yeah...I think I'll pass on the whole vegan thing. Now pass the bacon. Why is it vegans always seem to have this "holier than thou" attitude? That's annoyin enough to make me want to eat a whole cow.

Alice Jones

Sort of like Catholic Church leaders? Now that’s annoying. Big picture, Collins.

veritas

Oy. The incessant hectoring and lecturing of vegans. They are relentless and increasingly annoying in their conversion movement. Eat what you want. Just please stop preaching at the rest of us.

Alice Jones

Sort of like politics. And abortion.

rbtdt5

I would assume that all vegans are anti-abortion.

Alice Jones

Well, they made a choice not to embrace the industrial slaughter machine so maybe they place a premium on choice - and not religious leaders/politicians that take away freedom of choice - and then castigate/denigrate those that do not fall in line.

DickD

You eat children, RB?

rbtdt5

Dick - another stupid comment.

gidgetpb

Human beings have the dentition of omnivores and get their vitamin B12 supply from animal food sources. The reason all these fake meats are turning up is to satisfy what vegans miss in their chosen diet. They are omnivores, whether they like it and are willing to admit it or not. I will never feel apologetic for choosing organically and humanely raised local sources for my food consumption, both vegetable and animal. I have zero interest in ingesting some combination of human-manipulated chemical slop masquerading as actual meat. Just like I have no interest in consuming vegetables fed with and sprayed with artificial fertilizers and pesticides, or GMO Round-up ready crops that allow more herbicides to be poured into our soil. I find plant life just as amazing and awe-worthy as animal life, so I have no moral compunction to favor one type of life over another. I also recognize my role in the cycle of life on this planet. I respect animal and plant life equally and recognize that to sustain my own life I must consume a variety of these. Factory farming, both animal and vegetable, is a huge environmental problem. Veganism is not the solution. Sustainable, organic, humane farming practices are.

Dwasserba

Beyond is high protein.

gabrielshorn2013

Well put gidgetpb. We are omnivorous by nature. Taking pills to get the micronutrients you are not getting through normal food sources is not a natural diet. You can respect all life, plant and animal, but still eat them.

Alice Jones

Excellent letter and suggestions for healthier living.

jwhamann

I love gutting out pumpkins and hacking open watermelons. What really gets off, though, is throwing live broccoli in to a pot of boiling water.

DickD

Does the broccoli scream?

public-redux

No, but it gets really steamed.

DickD

As long as it doesn't get burned up, Gladys

BunnyLou

I believe that it has been determined that some plants are sensitive and can respond to outside stimulus so I propose that we fund a multi-billion dollar study to determine what plants have feelings before we slaughter them inhumanely for our food stock.

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup][lol]

Alice Jones

Wonderful idea, perhaps the president can make a donation from one of his many generous charities.

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