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Vegan: The trend fast catching up among a few youngsters

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ES Manjunath, my childhood friend and classmate until 8th standard in Dharwad visited us sometime back. He is a UK citizen and has been a resident of that country for more than two decades. A Mechanical Engineer by profession, he’s come up in a hard way in life. After a usual exchange of pleasantries, he was offered tea, which he flatly refused. It appeared intriguing that he has given up drinking tea after leaving the country. But, it was no better situation, when he was inquired if he would like to have some milk. No, he said!

Vegan for years: When quizzed as to why he doesn’t drink both, tea and milk, he informed of having given up the practice for many years and that his whole family including two daughters is also in the same habit. He explained that the family members don’t feel uneasy or uncomfortable for not drinking tea, coffee, and milk or consuming dairy products.

Upbringing and ethical reasons: On how the family got the idea to become Vegans, his daughter Divyashree Manjunath gives enough reasons for the same. She has completed her degree in International Relations. Presently, Divyashree Manjunath is working in London for a company called "Human Trafficking Foundation".  Divyashree Manjunath explains-“I have always been a vegetarian, and was so partly due to upbringing but also due to ethical reasons. Killing animals for food when there are other alternatives is not what I consider to be ethical…

…Never in my conscience: When I was vegetarian, I never considered milk and dairy in the same category as meat, as it did not involve the direct killing of an animal. It was never in my conscience that consuming dairy products contributed to the cruelty that farm animals face…

…Cowspiracy changes outlook: Living in a capitalist society, where the milk that we have access to is often from factory farming practices, is not something I want to contribute to. It was when the documentary 'Cowspiracy' came out that I became aware of the harm I was causing by consuming dairy products, and saw the hypocrisy of how being vegetarian was not going far enough”.

The whole family was vegetarian: On how she was able to convince the family members, Divyashree Manjunath informs-“This was not very difficult as the whole family was vegetarian due to having similar ethics. After watching a few documentaries such as 'Cowspiracy' and 'Forks over Knives', we all saw it was the obvious thing to do. Mum did push back a little as she saw veganism as 'extreme'. However, she came around pretty quickly after a few conversations!

79 million vegans in the world: According to a status report published on 15 December 2021 there are an estimated 79 million vegans in the world appearing to be a huge number. But, in comparison to the estimated world population of 7.8 billion, 79 million may appear dismal as it is just one per cent of the world population. On the contrary, Redefine Meat blog claims: However, a vegan lifestyle has never been more mainstream than now. It started primarily as a way to exclude animal cruelty but has recently been propelled by other causes such as health, sustainability and the current climate change crisis we’re facing.

Vegan food market shoots up: Thanks to awareness of veganism, the value of the vegan food market has also shot up. In 2018 it was valued at $14.2 billion and is expected to rise to $31.4 billion by 2026. On the other hand, the vegan beauty products industry currently worth $15.1 billion is expected to exceed $21 billion by 2027.

Only 40 per cent eat meat: It is also estimated that only two per cent of people in the US identify as vegan and three-quarters of them are female by 2040 it is projected that only forty per cent of the world’s population will eat meat. London, New York City, Berlin, Los Angeles and Toronto are widely considered to be the top five vegan cities in the world in terms of access to vegan food. London alone has over 200 vegan restaurants.

Why be a vegan? Vegans claim that you need to be a vegan for a variety of reasons including the alarming climate change emergency. It is also argued that being a vegan is the prime solution to save the environment. The meat and dairy industry is blamed for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions responsible as the main cause of climate change. And, vegans also claim that if the world went vegan, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by two-thirds and avoid $1.5 trillion of climate damages.

For the world to become a more sustainable place: The vegans vehemently argue-It is more tangible to focus on the sustainability aspect of being vegan. If the world continues consuming meat and animal products at the rate it does, there may not be enough food left to feed our growing population as early as 2050. The meat industry is categorically unsustainable, so cutting it out altogether helps make the world a more sustainable place.

Threefold vegan argument: …… Manjunath signs off-“The vegan argument is usually three-fold like:
*We should not harm or kill animals unnecessarily.
*It’s better for the environment.
*It can provide health benefits”.

-Manohar Yadavatti


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