I’ve been eating vegan since the beginning of this school year. Personally, although I think advocacy for the humane treatment of animals is important, my main reasons for switching from vegetarianism to veganism is simply that I feel less guilty about eating plant-based foods than animal products. There are certainly plenty of “bad” vegan foods (oreos are my favorite guilty pleasure), but overall a plant-based diet seems to be relatively low-guilt from a health perspective.
But although the concept of “good” and “bad” foods is not new, veganism is increasing. From 2009 to 2012, the number of vegans in the country rose from 1% to 2.5%, and a graph from Google Trends shows that more and more people search “vegan” over time. This made me think not only of Mead and her discussion of food causing guilt as it related to health, but also of Harris’s article “The Abominable Pig” and how he says that economics and the environment must be considered in the explanation of food taboos. I think that an increased interest in and need for sustainable food production has played a role in the increased interest in veganism in the US, not just because meat is a “bad” food that is connected to being overweight or because people care more about animals than they have in the past, but because vegan food production is viewed as being more sustainable that that which involves raising livestock (although I’d have to do more research on the subject to determine for myself whether or not this is true), and thus economic and environmental factors play a role.