If you cast your mind back a decade or so, you would likely struggle to remember much in the way of active veganism and plant-based culture.
Fast forward, however, and #vegan has over 89 million posts on Instagram, and the number of people committing to Veganuary has increased tenfold since its inception in 2014.
Supermarkets to fast food chains are now expressing an interest in the vegan and vegetarian market, releasing meat-free products to stay firmly on-trend.
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We’re hearing a lot more about reducing our meat consumption in the mainstream and media, but does this mean we are heading towards a meat-free future?
Why Are We Eating Less Meat?
There is no one reason as to why the number of people cutting down meat has risen; rather, a combination of improved public consciousness surrounding health and the environment.
As many of us look to improve our personal and mental wellbeing with healthy lifestyle choices, the demand for healthy, nourishing soul food has substantially increased. This means more vegetables, seeds and plant-based proteins, which are often swapped for meats and other processed foods.
Instagram plays a huge role in influencing our choices. We are guided by our friends, favourite influencers and celebrities, and there is no hotter trend right now than eating meat-free.
The last few years have shed light on the meat industry’s detrimental impact on the environment and the role it plays in climate change. Propelled by news breaking documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Meat the Truth, intensive farming to supply the world's meat demand is, indeed, causing terrible environmental damage. According to a report by The Guardian, reducing meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on the environment.
Is Eating Less Meat Healthy?
To establish whether the future is meat-free, it would also be essential to compare the positives and negatives of both producing and eating it.
From a nutritional point of view, while eating more nuts, seeds and plant-based foods may seem healthier, careful consideration must be made towards getting the right balance of nutrients and vitamins if meat is completely taken away. Vitamin B12 and iron are two nutrients that are much harder for the body to absorb from plant sources, so special consideration should be paid to ensuring the demand for these are met.
Despite overwhelming evidence that intensive farming practices are responsible for a significant percentage of climate change, much less research exists on whether organic farming on a larger scale would have a similar impact. In the present day, compared with intensive farming methods, organic farming appears to be much kinder to the environment. The idea is that, if we ate less meat, but sourced it organically and locally, there would be less of an impact.
We must also bear in mind that farm animals have been grazed across the UK and the world for hundreds of years, simply removing them would cause all kinds of damage to environments and ecosystems. Furthermore, not all land is suitable for growing crops and vegetables; therefore, would there be enough land to supply the increased demand for a plant-based diet?
Overall, more research is needed to understand whether a meat-free future would be possible and indeed plausible. Until then, the evidence seems to suggest that cutting down on meat products and shopping responsibly for them is a good way to go, especially if you don’t want to cut out meat or animal products altogether.
At Esquires Coffee, our coffee shops in the UK offer a variety of dishes ranging from vegan to responsibly sourced meat products. To help promote our future, our ethos focuses on ethical and sustainable business practices. For details on coffee shop franchise opportunities, visit our website. For more plant-based news, check out our high protein vegan foods.