To many, we are a strange new breed often attributed to being the latest "trend" or health craze, set aside as part of a phase that will surely pass. But will we? Wellness gurus and online influencers have surged on the internet, extolling the benefits of living a plant-based life.
And why wouldn't you?
It's forward-thinking for the environment and sustainability. Better for your body. A Hail Mary for the animals tortured in slaughterhouses.
Worldwide, it was recorded that Australia was the most popular country for veganism in 2018, per Google Trends, shortly followed by the UK and NZ. With the Vegan trend said to have quadrupled in the 5 years between 2012 and 2017, it isn't hard to believe the statistic that 1 in 3 Americans have stopped or reduced their meat consumption too.
According to the University of Oxford, 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."
Veganism is taking the world by storm and declaring that our earth is made a better, more sustainable, place to live. So, are you in or out? Are you on the wheel of revolution or against the surging movement of change?
If you're stuck on how to start slowly making changes yourself, here are some tips and tricks from me (a 15-year-old long-term vegan) about getting started. Because every small step, every small decision, counts.
1. Start small. Ask for a milk alternative in your coffee tomorrow. Opt for soy, almond, coconut, pea, cashew, macadamia, or really any other nut that has literally ever existed on earth. They've got it all.
2. Branch out. Make yourself accountable by talking to someone about how you'd like to change. Find a friend or family member who would also like to start eating fewer animal products and make a pact. Meatless Mondays, anyone?
3. Get inspired. Look online and you'll find a plethora of plant-based bloggers, foodies and Instagrammers eager to share some seriously mouth-watering recipes. Veganise some of your favourite recipes and try some new foods like "pulled pork" jackfruit or even a wider range of veggies that you can cook with. And if you're no Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, then perhaps even find a restaurant with plant-based options nearby.
4. Remember why you started. Whether for the environment, animals or your own health, remind yourself why you want to implement some changes into your food habits. You're doing a good thing. Tell yourself that every day to keep motivated. And don't let the trolls who liken you to yoga-pants-clad hippies and avid organic-celery juicers get you down.
5. And finally... Don't beat yourself up. It's OK not to be perfect. Find your groove, and if you slip off track, pick up where you left off and go with it. There's nothing worse than thinking something is vegan and then reading the back of the packet and—oh, c' mon, 1% milk solids?!
Being a vegan at 15 years old has taught me many things. About myself and the food we eat, the relationship we have with said food, and how our choices impact the world around us. We are consumers and we decide the future of consumption. My age makes what I choose nothing more or less. It is my decision to want change—and possibly yours, too—that makes the vegan movement special. Change is a difficult thing. Made even more difficult when you get can snide comments about the food you eat and the choices you make.
But those choices are always yours to make alone.
Well, with that done and dusted, if you don't mind me I'm on my way to go purchase a bunch of organic celery that'll probably cost me the equivalent of a left-toe transplant.