WORDS: VICTORIA MCEWAN
FEATURE IMAGE: RAWPIXEL
The past couple of years have seen an incredible growth of the vegan movement. In 2018, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation, and, between the years 2014 – 2018, the number of vegan’s in Great Britain quadrupled.
Despite this growth, numerous influencers on Youtube who inspired the masses and instigated change have declared that they are no longer vegan. In the summer of 2018, Kalel – a health and fitness vlogger with 1.9 million subscribers – apprehensively posted the video “I’m not really vegan?”. More recently Bonny Rebecca made a video titled ‘Why I’m no longer vegan…’ which has accumulated over 1 million views. Stella Rae’s explanation on why she is no longer vegan received intense backlash with responses such as:
“So disappointing to see so many influencers doing a complete 180 on their ethics”
“doing it for the views… on to the next trend”
“I’m honestly so sad. you’re the reason I went vegan in 2016. your justification is weak”.
After strongly following and promoting veganism, these YouTubers have reverted back to eating eggs, fish and occasionally chicken. But why? From issues such as bloating to more serious health implications such as bacterial overgrowth and high levels of mercury and parasites in the body, intestinal permeability and allergies, listening and watching these explanation videos really does offer an intriguing perspective on the way we eat as individuals.
The videos raise a number of issues; is veganism just a trend? Is veganism sustainable for our health long term? The vegan diet is a brilliant movement, one of compassion and respect for life on earth and the planet, and if done correctly, it can be life changing for so many people. However, when becoming so passionate about something which is so steeped with ethical opinions and facts, we need to remember that every body is different and our bodies process things in different ways.
The recent events within the vegan Youtube community also addresses the issue of how powerful movements can be when propelled by influencers. Influencers have the ability to create ‘cult’ like followings and the vegan community has received criticism for being judgemental and toxic in the way it addresses people. For a movement which is meant to give compassion to all life it can sometimes seem like passionate vegans accept either all or nothing, and this intensity of behaviour can put other people who would like to try this lifestyle for fear of being criticised and doing something wrong.
The lesson that people should try to try to take from these influencers making a decision and a change is that they have not critiqued a vegan lifestyle, only they have needed to slightly adapt the way the eat in order for their bodies to be healthy. After all, our own health is the most important thing and as food is something we consume three times daily it isn’t something to be taken lightly. People need to have a positive relationship with food, and enjoy what they eat, if this means eating 80% vegan and 20% of our diet containing dairy, fish and meat, surely this is more conscientious and achievable than just reverting back to a carnivorous diet?