Updated: Apr 19, 2020
The number of Vegans as a proportion of the population is, in 2019, still very low (1-3% of the population in the UK). If the facts point to health, environmental and animal rights benefits in a plant-based world then why are more people not vegan?
In this post, I aim to explore my ideas as to the reasons why more people have not chosen to become Vegan and my predictions of how Veganism may progress in the future.
Some Reasons why the number of Vegans are low;
1. Conditioned Behaviour. Most people would claim to be against animal abuse and to even consider themselves animal lovers, though at the same time, most people eat animals. This is because eating animals has been normalized. We learn when we are very young that dogs and cats are for loving whereas pigs and cows are for eating and using.
2. Conformity and Social Pressure. Everyone else eats animals. It's difficult to go against the tide. Often in our families, friendship circles and communities, it is often rare to meet people who do not eat animals and their produce nor exploit animals in other ways. Therefore we do not question our behaviours because it is considered 'the done thing'.
3. The truth is hidden from us. If people really knew what happened to animals on farms, they may reconsider their choice to eat animals. The agricultural industry goes to large extents to hide the facts and muddy the waters. Animal experience a very different life from what the industry portrays on its packaging and marketing resources. The industry hides behind terms such as 'organic' and 'free range' which hide the grim realities of the lives animals are subjected to for commercial gain. Factory farms are under lock and key with trespass laws getting stricter in places around the world to restrict the level of exposure of the cruel standard practices in the industry and other acts of animal abuse.
4. We are Specieist. Most people are specieist including myself (though to a lesser degree to a non-Vegan) where we consider the life of a human as more important than that of an animal. This can be considered on a continuum where for example someone may consider their desire for a fur jacket as more important than the lives of several animals killed to make the jacket.
5. We may not care enough. If you’ve watched the footage and read the stats and you have no inclination to go vegan, it may be that you lack empathy.
Or a combination of the above.
Thankfully the tide is turning, slowly yet surely. I believe in the future it will no longer be so normal to eat animals and to exploit animals so freely.
With thanks to social media and the works of undercover investigators, the word is out that there is another way forward. Social media has been a big factor pushing us to question our behaviours. It has been a positive engine, sharing information, education and advice, supporting people towards making changes to a Vegan lifestyle.
Social media has helped to expose the industry with plenty of footage and images of conditions animals are kept in and the horrors of animal exploitation are plain to see.
Animal activists have been able to find a platform largely free from the influence of big business which aims to stifle the movement.
As more people change their habits, businesses, large and small are realising that there is money to be made. They are in turn, reacting to the movement towards plant based eating with more options offered in restaurants and on supermarket shelves and cruelty free options such as faux fur and animals banned from circuses for example.
As more Vegan options and experiences are offered to people, it makes it easier for people to choose cruelty free. It also leads to people who are not making such decision consciously to still go for the cruelty free option. For example a non-Vegan may select the dairy free yogurt simply because it looks appetizing and have not made such a decision with animal rights, environmental issues or health concerns in mind.
With the rise in companies developing faux meat and plant based options, this is slowly being normalised. For example Beyond Meat is changing the eating landscape with its meat free burgers and other products and interestingly their audience are by far mostly animal eaters.
This move away from animal products will make animal products less competitive. This can be seen in the cow milk industry where dairy farms are shutting down at a high rate. More and more people are turning to plant based milks. As plant based products become more competitive and the animal industry less competitive, this may soon lead to animal products becoming more expensive and plant products less so, further encouraging a trend towards plant based eating.
In 30 years I imagine an environment where eating animal products is a taboo, and using animals for our clothing and entertainment would also be much less common place. Though we are just at the forefront of this movement I am optimistic of a more compassionate, just and peaceful future. At the end of the day it is about supply and demand – we can be the voice of the animals, because at present, very few people care to listen to them but people are realising that there is another way.
The Future is Vegan.