As an ethical vegan, my decision to go vegan was driven by my desire to see change, specifically change for the animals. I want to better the lives of animals through not only my decision to not consume or use animal products, but also through my ability to impact the decisions of others. It can be easy to forget that the choices we make can influence other people, and today, I want to reflect on the changes I have witnessed in my home, local community, and the country I live in as a vegan.
How have I impacted my own household? While my husband has yet to adopt a vegan lifestyle, we have made a lot of subtle changes in our household that have made all of the difference:
- When it comes to food, about 97% of the food we purchase is plant-based. My husband still regularly purchases cheese, as well as occasionally purchases meat.
- The household products we use, and the beauty products I use, have drastically changed. We now make the extra effort to purchase plant-based cleaning products, which are better for our health, our house, and the environment, and as mentioned in previous blogs, I now only purchase vegan, cruelty-free beauty products, thereby reducing the demand for products that do test on animals.
- Finally, we’ve made a stronger effort to leave a smaller carbon footprint: For instance, our neighborhood does not have recycling, so we purchased our own recycle bins and take our paper and plastic items to our local recycling center ourselves. It’s been incredible to see how many things we used to just throw away.
How have I, and other vegans, impacted my local community? When I first went vegetarian, the reaction from most of my friends and family was, “But what do you eat if you can’t eat meat?” But as I continued to sustain a plant-based lifestyle, my friends and family started to see that living plant-based isn’t so bad.
- Some of my friends and family have realized that there are a lot of delicious vegan options out there. As a result, some of my friends have reduced their consumption of meat, while others have adopted an entirely vegan lifestyle.
- By writing this blog, I am raising awareness of the vegan lifestyle and aiding in making vegan resources more accessible for my readers. Today, I received a wonderful e-mail from a reader thanking me for the resources I’ve provided their family as they transition to a vegan diet.
- By asking for vegan options at local restaurants, the vegans in my community have increased the demand for vegan food, and in the past six months, we have seen three new vegan establishments pop up in our city.
How have vegans in the U.S. impacted our country as a whole? Although the U.S. still has a long way to go, the following statistics demonstrate that adopting a plant-based diet is becoming highly popularized among Americans:
- PewResearchCenter found that 9% of Americans identified as vegan or vegetarian in 2016. While only 1 in every 100 people identifies as vegan or vegetarian, the number of people identifying as such is on the rise: For those over the age of 50, only 5% identified as vegan or vegetarian; in contrast, for those between the ages of 18 and 49, 12% identified as vegan or vegetarian. Thus, 7% more people in younger generations identify as vegan or vegetarian.
- In line with that increase, a recent Forbes article noted that, in 2017, the U.S. sales of plant-based foods has increased by 8.1%. Likewise, non-dairy beverages comprised about 25% of non-dairy and dairy beverages in 2016, a number that is only expected to increase to 40% in 2019. This should be no surprise because, as stated by Mercy for Animals, about 83% of Americans incorporate plant-based foods into their diets and 58% of Americans consume non-dairy milk.
While I know that some of these examples are personal, if you are vegan, I’m sure that you can think of some examples from your own experience regarding how you’ve impacted your household, friends, family, and local community. Likewise, while I have only included statistics about the rise of veganism in the U.S., I know that many other countries, namely the U.K., are also experiencing an increased demand for plant-based foods. Are there some other ways you can think of that you have made an impact by choosing to go vegan? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The featured photo was taken by Jonathan Mast. Find more of his work at unsplash.com.