Slaughter to animals, global warming and starving humans are not normally subjects that spring to mind when talking about veganism. However, they were all reasons as to why Mia Clifton converted to a movement that is becoming more and more popular with Australians.
Ms Clifton 29 of Dulwich Hill in Sydney’s innerwest, was compelled to change her lifestyle when she realised the impact it was having on the eco system and fellow humans. “I converted to veganism because I didn’t want to take part in the mass exploitation and slaughter of animals anymore, nor did I want to contribute to global warming or be in any way implicit in the incredible fact that we have enough grain in the world to feed 70 billion livestock yet there are 800 million starving men, women, and children in the world”.
The term new gospel has been given to veganism as many people are converting to its message and lifestyle.
Veganism is a much bigger step further than being a vegetarian, where meat, fish and chicken is excluded from the diet.
The vegan devotee like the vegetarian, excludes all of the above foods plus any product that has come from each particular animal e.g. no consumption of eggs, butter, milk… even honey is off the menu. This is because the honeycomb is removed from the beehives and is replaced with sugar for the bees to reproduce honey in an unnatural way.
Vegans also refuse to purchase and consume any product like cosmetics and shampoos for example if these things have been tested on animals.
Veganism has seen a spike all over the world but particularly in Australia in the last ten years as people similar to Ms Clifton decide to eat a cleaner diet and one that is less impactful on the environment they live in.
Roy Morgan research states that between 2012-2016, vegan related diets (that is diets that are all or almost all vegetarian based) have risen 400,000 to 2.1 million (11.2% of the population in Australia).
Data from market researcher Euromonitor International has shown Australia’s packaged vegan food market is currently worth almost $136 million, set to reach $215 million by 2020.
“An increasing number of companies are expanding their consumer appeal by staying away from animal ingredients wherever possible” said Ewa Hudson, head of health and wellness at Euromonitor International.
Similarly, most people moving to veganism do so with a slanting view towards either helping the environment or wanting to lead a life that is healthier than one dominated by meat.
In the UK, 542,000 people follow veganism in what is a rise of a staggering 350% in the last decade.
A lot of the change particularly in the UK and also back home in Australia has to do with a report that the World Health Organisation (WHO) released last year stating that processed meats like ham and bacon had connections to cancer.
Fruit salads, nuts, grains and vegetables have become the staple of Ms Clifton’s diet and she is vocal about the impact it has had on her and how at peace she feels having made this decision.
“My day to day life has changed in a good way! Because it’s harder to buy food on a whim, I prepare my fruit salad breakfasts the night before (and it’s worth noting that I never ate fruit before I went vegan) and usually try to make enough for dinner so I can have leftovers for lunch the next day”.
“Every single day, with every single meal I eat I am making a conscious choice, and every day I feel good and proud that I am making a difference to the lives of animals and to the health of the planet”.
However despite the change in lifestyle and diet, she and many other vegans continue to get adverse reactions to the change in their lives.
This is not surprising in an environment like Australia where the average person eats 250g of meat a day and upwards of 100kg of meat a year.
Viral videos of people trying to trick vegans into eating meat were prevalent last year with some videos achieving more than 1 million hits. Although seen by many as a harmless joke, it was a demoralising and disrespectful act that is just the latest in a line of narrow minded views by meat-eaters who seem intolerant of veganism despite it not affecting their life at all.
Writer Richard Cornish, published a book late last year “My year without meat” and detailed his experiences both good and bad.
“People are absolutely dreadful.
“It’s that people who choose to put themselves on the outer are ripe for bullies and people say the most horrible things, and they try to trick you.”
“People hate vegetarians and loathe vegans”.
The “new gospel” is growing quickly in Australia and may continue to flourish especially with the focus on global warming increasing in many social circles around Australia.
With support coming from doctors and dieticians nationwide that Veganism diets are healthy and nutritionally adequate as long as they are planned, there could be a new way of healthy living sweeping Australia in the next few years.