What to know about veganism this World Vegan Day

From increases in plant-based products to popular vegan Instagrams.

November 01, 2019, 2:17 PM

Happy World Vegan Day!

In a world with an abundance of edible options, vegans certainly have a rainbow of choices when it comes to both the food they consume and the elements that define their cuisine.

Since Donald Watson defined and coined the term "vegan" in 1944, becoming known as the founder of modern veganism, the movement has skyrocketed to new heights worldwide.

People have adopted the practice of eliminating animal products for their health, the environment or for other ethical reasons.

Now, whether it's in the form of popularized plant-based food products or dedicated vegan social media accounts, elements of veganism have become part of mainstream culture.

PHOTO: Engineered plant-based burger patties from Beyond Meat sit on shelves among other meat alternatives at a grocery store in San Ramon, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019.
Engineered plant-based burger patties from Beyond Meat sit on shelves among other meat alternatives at a grocery store in San Ramon, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019.
Smith Collection/gado/Getty Images, FILE

Veganism by The Numbers

Though there is no complete data for the total number of vegans, research from the Vegetarian Research Group said an estimated 6.5 million people call themselves vegans in the U.S.

Plant-based "milk" accounted for 40% of all milk sales in the U.S. in 2018 and plant-based food sales topped $3.3 billion in the past year, according to retail sales data released by Nielsen.

There were as many people searching for vegan Thanksgiving recipes as there were people searching for turkey Thanksgiving recipes in November 2018, according to The Vegan Society.

Australia was the most popular country for veganism in 2018, according to Google Trends, followed by the U.K. and New Zealand.

Vegan Defined

From "plant-based" to "freegan," here are some popular nomenclature for the veggie-centric term.

The associated philosophy rejects the commodity status of animals and a follower of that diet or philosophy is known simply as vegan, according to The Vegan Society.

PHOTO: A vegan lunch bowl containing leafy greens, grains, seeds, vegetables, avocado and a peanut-miso sauce.
A vegan lunch bowl containing leafy greens, grains, seeds, vegetables, avocado and a peanut-miso sauce.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Dominika Piasecka, a spokeswoman for The Vegan Society, told ABC News that "veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history."

"People now closely associate it with health, fitness and well-being," she explained. "It’s no longer portrayed as an unusual lifestyle. It's easy and accessible - you can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of plant-based products or walk into any restaurant and be presented with an exciting vegan menu. There has never been a better time to be vegan."

The vegan diet itself has shown to have positive health benefits for those who make the change.

"Vegan diets are usually higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamins C and E, iron, and phytochemicals, and they tend to be lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B-12," according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The same publication found that vegans "tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease.”

Famous Vegans

PHOTO: Pamela Anderson joins PETA to promote vegan food in London, Oct. 26, 2016.
Pamela Anderson joins PETA to promote vegan food in London, Oct. 26, 2016.
Jeff Spicer/Getty Images, FILE

Here's a look at some stars who have sworn off meat and animal bi-products for a life of veganism.

Vegan Influence on Social Media

From popular vegan food bloggers to vegan online communities, there's no shortage of powerful plant-based influence.

These are a few of the most followed vegan Instagram accounts.

The Happy Pear, these two twin brothers and cookbook authors have a popular YouTube channel and share plant-based recipes and inspiration on their profiles.

Vegan Eats NYC has nearly 60K followers on Instagram and shares regional vegan eats around Manhattan, its surrounding boroughs and beyond.

Deliciously Ella shares vegan recipes across her social media platforms to her more than 1.5 million followers and celebrates all that plant-based lifestyles have to offer.

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