How many vegans are there in the world? Over the half-century, veganism has been the minority of another minority – vegetarianism. What does that mean? According to a 2015 survey run in America, 3.4 per cent of the population were vegetarian, and just 0.4 per cent were vegan.
But, things have changed fast since, and according to The Economist, 2019 is the year of the vegan. A quick Google search for veganism shows an increase of 550 per cent over the last five years.
In the U.S., we’ve jumped from 0.4 per cent to almost 3.5 per cent that identifies as ‘vegan’. In the U.K. alone, veganism has risen by 300 per cent over the previous five years, reaching 650,000 citizens.
That’s just a bit above 1 per cent of the country’s total population.
Vegan Inflated Numbers
However, the numbers are inflated by plant-based diet eaters catalogues as vegans. But what does that mean? Well, it is essential to understand that veganism is a specific lifestyle and not just a ‘plant-based’ diet.
Plant-based diets are describing vegetarians who choose to eat a ‘vegan’, as in, only plant-based foods.
So, if you do not lead a cruelty-free lifestyle, then you’re not vegan but a vegetarian and/or a plant-based eater.
My partner and my parents are flexitarians. That means they choose to eat what they want when they want. On occasions, they decide to switch to a plant-based diet for an extended period.
When asked, they answered that from a diet point of view they eat plant-based foods. But that catalogues them as vegetarians to media, which then would only inflate the data relating to the numbers of vegans.
Also, as it is the case with my parents and my partner, the choices for food are frequently changing, so does the data. The correct way to asses vegans is by looking at their life choices, not only what their diet consists of.
Vegan, Not Vegetarian
The best example is the ‘Vegetarianism in America’ research published by Vegetarian Times Magazine.
The study shows that 7.9 million people in the U.S. – 3.4 per cent of the U.S. population – follow a vegetarian-based diet.
However, only 1 million of them (that’s approximately 0.5 per cent) lead a vegan lifestyle.
Perceived as more conscious when compared with plant-based diets, people that follow a vegan lifestyle have removed all animal-based products from both, their diets and their fashion choices.
Thanks to the Hindu religion, India is one of the most vegetarian-friendly countries in the world.
Hinduists in India makes for the majority of the population as in up to 42 per cent of the Indian population, which totals 1.2 billion.
But, there is no official data on how many lifestyle vegans are in India or around the world.
Veganism Is Taking Over
The explosive rise and significant growth of veganism come from Western countries, Eastern Europe, and Israel.
Moreover, as cultures and landscapes change for the better, the concept of a vegan lifestyle has started to gain momentum across countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as well. Thus, making veganism the world’s fastest-growing trend.
Finally, recent data shows that over the next ten years, at least 1 in 10 people will become vegan.
Indeed, if the world went vegan, it could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion. Crazy, isn’t it?!
“We do not expect everybody to become vegan, but climate change impacts of the food system will be hard to tackle and likely require more than just technological changes. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets can be a large step in the right direction. The size of the projected benefits should encourage individuals, industry, and policymakers to act decisively to make sure that what we eat preserves our environment and our health.”
Dr Marco Springmann
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