The Face of Veganism Is Changing

09/09/2015 10:45 BST | Updated 08/09/2016 10:12 BST

Veganism first and foremost will always be a social justice movement- since Donald Watson and 5 others coined the term 'Veganism', in 1944, millions of people around the world have chosen to live a lifestyle which seeks to exclude- as far as is possible- all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food and clothing.

Those early pioneers blazed a bold path- they didn't have YouTube, Twitter or Facebook to spread their fledgling message of compassion towards animals. But slowly through their advocacy and nothing but pure dedication and hard graft Veganism became more widely recognised. Those early trailblazers were fearless in their rejection of the then social norms, they stood strong and endured what must of been the most fierce critiques of their chosen lifestyle.

These days Veganism is no longer viewed as a fringe lifestyle choice. Instead people upon choosing to pursue a Vegan lifestyle are more likely to be congratulated than condemned.

The flourishing Vegan community is full of people living a life of adventure where they are mindful about their impact on animals and the environment.

Just take Google's latest figures, who reported a three-fold increase in vegan searches from 2007 to 2014.

Thanks to great work by activists and campaigning organisations like Viva, Mercy for Animals, Animal Aid the true horror of farmed animals short lives plain for all of us to watch on YouTube.

These images are now seared into all of our consciences and even those who choose to eat meat increasingly feel ill at ease with it.

Veganism as a movement is on the rise. And it isn't solely the desire to not be involved in the death and exploitation of animals which is driving it.

Just this week 2 x Kayaking world champion, Ben Brown, who is also a hugely popular lifestyle vlogger on YouTube announced he was going Vegan. The final straw for him was watching Cowspiracy a brilliant documentary about the environmental impacts associated with eating animals.

There are other groundbreaking films like Earthlings which shows the true reality of factory farming. Also hugely popular is the health orientated Forks Over Knives which has also converted hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to a Vegan lifestyle.

Even healthcare providers and medical organisations, including, but not limited to Kaiser Permanente, the Physicians Committee and Wellness Forum Health now tout the benefits of animal product-free diets for health.

Nearly 5 years ago when I stopped eating meat a driving factor was the desire to reduce my carbon footprint in order to help tackle climate change.

As I progressed on my meat free lifestyle, compassion and not being involved in cruelty to animals became more prominent and that was what made me finally go Vegan over two years ago.

The Veganism has become a lifestyle for the people who want to explore. Those people who dream of a better world where exploitation of animals and environmental disaster aren't inevitable.

I see hope in the movement everywhere and everyday I hear of Vegan's doing extraordinary things from running ultra marathons, cycling their bikes the height of Everest in a day to being fantastic educators and Mums and Dads.

This is why I recently co-founded a new Vegan lifestyle festival called Vegan Futures happening in London on the 7th November.

The festival is bringing together athletes, activists, yogis and foodies for a day of inspiring talks and workshops to nourish both the body and mind. It is for everyone, the plant-based living curious and fully fledged Vegans.

I know that together we are stronger. We need to rally behind each other and support one another in pursuing the lifestyle even if our reasons for doing so are slightly different. Whether you came to Veganism for the animals or for your health. Let's share ideas, speak our truth and grow together. I am sure the Vegan pioneers of yesteryear would approve of that.