ByN. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
July 16, 2022 (IANSlife) Is veganism a healthy choice or just another trend? This is one of the most debated questions among nutritionists, environmentalists, and socio-economic leaders. Just a few years back, veganism became popular in the West and gradually penetrated the Eastern markets. From hardcore non-vegetarians to eggetarians, people are gradually letting go of their meat and animal-based diets. However, the question remains, is veganism here to stay, or will it be a forgotten trend in the next few years?
What started as a conscious trend is now becoming an acquired habit for many, with increased awareness about the harmful effects of having animal-derived products. Usually, vegans don’t consume meat, honey, and dairy products like milk, cheese, mayonnaise, eggs, etc. They also avoid using animal-based cosmetic and apparel products. It is, indeed, a plant-based lifestyle that frowns upon killing and exploiting animals.
Jasmine Bharucha, Founder, Katharos foods speak to IANSlife on how gradual consumer consciousness has boosted the vegan industry, and growing climate change awareness is imprinting veganism in lifestyles across the world.
How can the current food security crisis be resolved with plant-based diets?
Jasmine: Over the last few years, global warming has increased floods and droughts across different parts of the world. It is leading to grain scarcity. The geopolitical crisis caused by the Ukraine-Russia war has further accelerated this shortage. With the ongoing conflict, the potential global wheat crisis will affect the global food supply chain. With the world population expected to reach over 8.5 billion by 2030, it is more important than ever to take conscious steps to stabilize the worldwide food supply.
The cultivation of livestock and animals is energy-exhaustive. While depleting energy resources, they also require large pieces of land. In fact, animal agriculture occupies 77 percent of all agricultural land worldwide yet provides only 17 percent of the world's food. Therefore, there is a rampant need to reduce animal consumption to improve food production, i.e, plant-based produce. While improving the land ecosystem, veganism will also contribute to food security.
Do you think veganism is a strong proponent to help the environment?
Jasmine: A study by Oxford University highlights that meat-eaters emit 2.5 times more greenhouse emissions than vegans. And that raising animals for food is one of the top reasons for environmental issues. Since people across the world are becoming environmentally conscious, it has led to a shift in lifestyles and eating habits. More people are supporting vegan diets, not just because it is in trend but for a healthy and environment-friendly lifestyle.
At the same time, plant-based diets are a boon for those who have allergies to animal products. It is indeed a new-age habit that supports cruelty-free and eco-conscious consumption. Veganism brings multi-fold benefits for health and the environment, making it a go-to choice for proponents of a sustainable lifestyle. It is not just a consumer fad but a consciously chosen habit.
Do you believe that the future belongs to plant-based alternatives?
Jasmine: People have become more conscious of what they buy, use, and consume. Previously, they were unable to maintain vegan lifestyles and diets due to a lack of dairy and meat alternatives. However, the growing innovation in the plant-based industry has changed the scenario. Now, many dairy alternatives like seed and nut-based cheese, soy tofu, coconut milk, etc., are available in the market. Most importantly, they are just as good as animal products in taste and texture.
Additionally, consumers are becoming more aware of animal welfare issues. It is a critical driver of the shift from animal-based to plant-based products. The plant-based dairy market is expected to grow from $11 billion in 2020 to $32 billion in 2031, owing to rising consumption and demand. It reflects the continued acceptance of veganism, which is unquestionably here to stay.
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N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe can be contacted at email@example.com