2019 is poised to become the “year of the vegan” according to The Economist. In its recent “The World in 2019” magazine, the publication predicted that the vegan diet would become fully mainstream this year.
"Sales of vegan foods in America in the year to June 2018 rose ten times faster than food sales as a whole," reports the outlet. "Giant food firms are clambering onto the bandwagon, creating vegan lines of their own, buying startups, or both.”
The growing presence of a plant-based way of life in the U.S. is evident in trends in the food industry. This year, dairy giant Dean Foods became a majority shareholder in flax milk producer Good Karma Foods, and meat processor Tyson Foods invested in plant-based superstar startup Beyond Meat, which has sold over 25 million Beyond Burgers since its launch in 2016 and recently announced that it was going public on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
According to Rich Hardy, Head of Campaigns at Veganuary, veganism is “no longer a counter-culture.”
“It’s not hype or a short-term trend,” he tells Plant-Based News. "There's substance to its rise and that gives it credibility. Any movement or venture has to reach critical mass to carry on and succeed. We think veganism has reached that point and is now firmly on its way to the mainstream."
Individual proponents of a vegan diet have noticed this widespread shift in perception.
“No one asks why you’re vegan anymore,” writes Hannah Ewans for Vice in a piece entitled, ‘2018 Was the Year Veganism Lost its Status as a Moral Signifier.’
“In 2018, fewer people need an explanation, because the explanation invariably isn't all that interesting,” she continues. “Veganism as a word, a concept, shed much of its loadedness exceptionally quickly.”
Plant-based alternatives are also growing more popular with segments of the population who do not identify as vegan. Nearly nine in 10 households that purchase milk alternatives also purchase dairy milk some of the time, according to a 2017 USDA report, and plant-based meat alternative producers like Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat are transparent about their goal to cater to omnivores and occasional consumers of plant-based products by creating burgers that taste like meat.
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