Veganism is booming. It is hard to escape the fact that everywhere you look people are talking about the benefits of following a vegan diet. What was once considered a diet only alternative types were interested in is quickly becoming a lifestyle choice for celebrities and the health conscious.
Steak has been replaced by quinoa and nutribullet blends are the talk of house parties. We are witnessing the birth of a new generation of people aligning their values with their diet.
As a passionate advocate for a vegan lifestyle I am always talking to people about veganism. And countless times I have had people turn around to me and said; "Oh I used to be vegan but I found it too hard."
Recently I started reading Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers which examines what made people with talent a huge success and why others with equal or superior abilities failed to fulfil their potential.
Amongst Gladwell's finding is that luck and most importantly opportunity plays is a key factor in some people being hugely successful.
One thing I notice with the failed vegans I speak with is that at the time of their veganism they didn't really know any other vegans.
They went vegan because they read an article or to try and resolve medical problems. Almost all of them faced hostility from friends and family.
Therefore they didn't have friends throwing vegan supper clubs or people they could speak to about this new amazing thing that had happened to them. In the end, it just became too hard, too lonely to be different and they reverted back to their old habits.
And those people now often say to me things like "I wish I could be vegan." The moment of opportunity that Gladwell talks about in his book is now arising especially for millennials (18-35 year olds). There has never been a better time to be vegan, we are seeing new online communities like the newly launched global vegan community VeganWALL spring up to support people choosing to live a vegan lifestyle.
On YouTube there is a thriving vegan community around the Raw Till 4 principle developed by Freelee The Banana Girl and Durian Rider. Which encourages people to eat a vegan diet rich in fruits and vegetables and only consume cooked food after 4pm.
One of the most successful health and fitness podcasts on iTunes has been created by Rich Roll, a vegan, ultra-endurance athlete and wellness advocate. The message that going plant-based offers a healthier way of living is now widely accepted by those with an active interest in nutrition.
This certainly isn't the way the mainstream perceived the vegan diet 10 years ago. The democratisation of media into the hands of people who have had their lives transformed as a result of veganism has enabled people to tell their stories through video, pictures and blogs. This has helped inspire so many to try veganism, it wasn't championed by the traditional media initially but now they convert the latest vegan blogger or YouTube star. Veganism has finally arrived on trend.
Still when coming to a vegan lifestyle it can feel slightly overwhelming. People want to do their best to embrace this new found way of living but if you don't know another vegan in person who do you talk to about it?
You have probably heard this joke. Question: 'How do you know if someone is a vegan? Answer: They will tell you in five seconds. And it is true from my experience once you go vegan you have an energy rising up inside of you wanting to scream; "I am vegan and it's really great!".
So where do you go to talk about it? If you live in London, Berlin, Portland or New York, LA you are blessed to live in a place where you can real life vegans keen to talk about it with you. If you're in other parts of the world you're less likely to have a vegan community willing to embrace your new found enthusiasm for this way of living
Places to talk
It seems like 2015 has heralded a launch of several new sites aiming to make being Vegan easier than ever before. Veganuary 2015 had a fantastic product directory and crowdsourced recipe section and hot on their heels in launching have been the Vegan Lifestyle Association and VeganWALL.
VeganWALL is a new vegan community creating a worldwide map of vegans. Although newly launched the site already has over 1000 vegan places, 900+ members and 800 community threads. Founder Miro Radenovic, told me; "We love that the global vegan movement is growing, there is so much creativity in vegan cooking out there and huge growth in vegan friendly restaurants."
Miro was inspired to create VeganWALL after realising there was a lack of up to date vegan information available in one place. He told me; "I hope what we have created is a platform people will love, whether they are adding their recipes, favourite restaurants or discussing and organising bike rides."
Every week a new popup, business, or vegan tuck box gets launched and through communities like VeganWALL, Veganuary and The Vegan Lifestyle Association we are able to share ideas, recipes and generally just inspire each other with amazing food and compassionate ideas.