The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

The Rise of Vegan Culture

By: for on Dec. 25, 2017
News Briefs
Photo Credits: Illustration by Yungyeon Roh


Distant are the days of Annie Hall, when Woody Allen resigned himself to a plate of alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast. Over the years, vegan eating has gone from tasteless to trendy to making inroads into the mainstream. One sign of the times: in 2016, Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, bought a 5 percent stake in the plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat. (The company’s best-known product, the Beyond Burger, is pinkened with beet extracts and reportedly sizzles when grilled.) No longer fettered by associations with hippie kooks or radical politics, veganism has ascended to the astral plane of aspirational living. These days it keeps mixed, and more glamorous, company: famous bodies belonging to the likes of Tom Brady and Beyoncé have been fueled by vegan diets.

Sociology graduate student Nina Gheihman is researching social aspects of veganism’s spread. Veganism was at first closely bound to the ideology of the animal-rights movement, she explains, which initially aimed at a range of targets, like wearing fur and testing products on animals. Once activists shifted focus to farm conditions and food, veganism took on the features of what scholars call a “lifestyle movement.” Over time, it’s become more closely associated with general environmental concerns and a “healthism” mentality, bound up with notions of perfecting the body. Trustworthy numbers on how many people identify as vegan are hard to come by, says Gheihman, but a growing number practice veganism in some way: incorporating meat and dairy substitutes in their meals, or restricting their diets at certain times of day or for a period of weeks.

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