There’s no doubt that veganism is on the rise and so many people have already jumped on the bandwagon. However, a survey that was conducted by The Guardian gave very interesting insights about the time people decided to go vegan. In fact, it was conducted to find out at what age they turned vegan. Almost 70% of them were between 15-34 years old. Fortunately, more and more young people seem to be well informed about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and decide to become vegan already in their teenagers’ years. Sometimes, they face resistance by their parents or friends but their determination seems to be unshaken. This is really good news as they are the generations to come setting the tone for a hopefully vegan future.
“Veganism is on the rise. In 2006, 150,000 people in the UK opted for a plant-based diet. Today, 542,000 do. That’s a 350% increase.
The movement is driven by the young – close to half of all vegans are aged 15-34 (42%), compared with just 14% who are over 65. When the Guardian asked people about being vegan, 67% of the 474 who replied were under 34, and more than one-sixth were teenagers. We heard from people as young as 14 espousing the purported virtues of quitting meat and dairy.
The not-for-profit Teen Vegan Network, a social network for vegans and vegetarians, has noted this rise with interest. The founders say that last year their first summer camp sold out in 34 hours and this year they had to put more than 150 young people on the waiting list. They have seen a steady growth in their website since it launched three years ago, with at least one new member a week.
So why are so many teens ditching meat and dairy? Here’s what they said.
Euan Reece, 17, south Northamptonshire
‘Men are looked down on in mainstream circles for being vegan’
I stumbled across veganism while browsing online. I saw some videos and immediately became interested in it. It took me a while to go fully vegan – I was vegetarian for some time before – as I didn’t realise it would be so easy to get into.
I don’t believe that celebrities have played a major role in the expansion of veganism among teenagers. They are likely to have influenced some people, but the main driving force behind the movement is social media. This has allowed the vegan message to spread a lot quicker than it would otherwise have done.
Keeping healthy is critical to being successful as a vegan. It is very important that you research what to eat before or while changing your diet. Knowing, for example, that chickpeas and spinach are great sources of iron could prevent you from getting anaemia. Research is essential.
Veganism is definitely more common among young people now. I feel that social media has played a major part in this, but there’s also the fact that younger people aren’t bound as much by traditional values, so they are more likely to change to a more leftfield thing such as veganism.
Some of my friends are less supportive. I find that men are looked down on in mainstream circles for being vegan as it isn’t seen as masculine. But generally, people are fine. They are often inquisitive about it, but don’t have the motivation to make a change themselves. Connecting with other vegans online is very easy, and I can communicate issues I have surrounding diet, for example.
Abigail Wheeler, 17, the south-west
‘My dad is from South Africa and thought it was strange at first’
I went vegan for three reasons: animals, health and the environment. People worry about the lack of B vitamins when going vegan, especially B12, so I eat food supplemented with it, such as nutritional yeast. Being vegan is inherently quite healthy, however, because you eat so much fruit and veg.
My dad thought it was really strange at first – he’s from South Africa where they have heavily meat-based diets. He feeds me beans all the time, as he worries about me getting enough protein. My mum has always been supportive. She is a coeliac and has other food intolerances, so we have always had alternative stuff at home.
There is a community of vegans online, but I only know one other person at my school who has chosen this diet. There are a few vegans on my Facebook, too, but they can be a bit preachy. I try to spread the vegan message positively instead of forcefully.
I follow veganism in every way: I buy products that haven’t been tested on animals, but if I have an animal product, such as the leather shoes from before I went vegan, then I won’t throw it away. I think it’s wasteful.
Isabella Hood, 15, Matakana, New Zealand
‘Veganism is the only sustainable choice for people’
I had my eight-month vegaversary recently. I became vegan after a friend was interested in it and gave me a few videos to watch – two of which wereCowspiracy and Earthlings. There was no going back. I pretty much went vegan overnight. My parents are not vegan (for now) and my mum worries a lot about me getting a balanced diet and makes sure I eat lots of nuts and vegetables. This is a huge help because I can be lazy about this. My dad mainly just teases me.
The main reason I became vegan was because I see all animals as my friends and I would not want to eat a pig, just as I would not want to eat a dog. Every animal is a living, breathing and feeling creature who doesn’t want to die. I don’t want to contribute to their deaths.
There is so much I could say about why veganism is the only sustainable choice for people. I could spout so many shocking statistics and facts. For example, animal agriculture is the leading cause of Co2 emissions, deforestation and pollution of our waterways. It has been predicted that if the whole world went vegan, then world hunger could be solved five times over. Humans are taking the Earth for more then she’s got and it’s killing it.
Me and my vegan friends connect a lot through Facebook. I’m in countless vegan groups and get updates on upcoming events such as vegan food fairs and protests. I use these groups to ask questions and discuss ideas with like-minded vegans. I also watch quite a few vegan YouTubers, who are very inspirational. A few of my favorites are Bonnie Rebecca and Freelee the Banana Girl.
A lot of the vegans I meet online are young. This is perhaps because us younger people are the ones who are going to have to live on this planet in decades to come and we want to take care of it. We want to help save it from the damage that has already be done in anyway that we can.”