I was shocked when Ben & Jerry's, a monster dairy-based company, released their first vegan ice cream in 2016. I thought it was a lie when I learned White Castle sells not one, but two, vegan burgers (one being the new Impossible Burger - vegan without the cheese - sold in select U.S. cities!). I cried of happiness when Reddi-Wip released an almond milk and coconut milk based whipped cream.
What's going on?
Big companies are starting to realize what is working for their consumers, many not vegan but wanting vegan (or healthier) options.
Non-dairy milk sales have grown over 60 percent since 2012, reported Mintel Press Office - a huge leap for vegan-kind. If there are only around 1.6 million vegans on the planet, why is dairy-free becoming so popular?
It's trendy. It's tasty. It's right.
With latest documentaries, like "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret" and "What The Health" that focus on switching to a dairy-free, sustainable lifestyle, many people have chosen a plant-based diet (which includes ditching the dairy). Neither of these documentaries are perfect, and some vegan dietitians have debunked parts of "What The Health." Despite the films, people see what happens to animals on dairy farms. They see the effects veganism can have on their health. The proof is in the (vegan) pudding - when nearly 40 percent of Americans are obese and many more are overweight, people seek for an out.
Frankly, I wasn't expecting this switch because the American diet practically consists of burgers, milkshakes, and cheese. Three-fourths of Americans don't eat enough vegetables and many consume above the recommended amount of protein. If anything, we're doubling our intake of protein. "Even on a vegan diet people can easily get 60 to 80 grams of protein throughout the day from foods like beans, legumes, nuts, broccoli and whole grains," Sophie Egan said in a New York Times article. Our diets are out of whack.
This isn't another "go vegan" article, even though I highly suggest it. I'm not "another crazy vegan" with a picket sign screaming obscenities. I'm here to say, "Thank you."
Thank you, corporations, for making a change. Thank you for taking the chance to promote and sell vegan products.
Nothing warms my heart more when I see vegan products on a menu or in the grocery aisle. The best part is when I pick up a product and see the vegan certified logo. This is a trend people can follow. More than ever before, vegan options are more accessible to the everyday consumer - you don't have to live in L.A. or give up your life savings to buy dairy-free whip cream.
These products sit on a shelf, next to "normal" products. Vegan Ben and Jerry's pints aren't aisles away - they're right next to the dairy version. You don't have to search for a vegan option anymore.
Whether you love meat and won't ever give it up or a die-hard vegan of 30 years, you can't debate that veganism is more accessible than ever before. It's quickly entering our menus, grocery stores, and lives - and, better yet, it tastes pretty darn good.