There has undoubtedly been a steady rise in the popularity of people being more active and healthy over the last couple of years. Being healthy and fitness conscious has become the ‘It’ thing in our society, with it having almost ‘fashionable’ connotations.

It is easy to see why, with all the endless Victoria’s Secret models constantly showing off their intense morning work-out routines, the numerous Instagram famous girls with their acai bowls and food bloggers with their green smoothies surrounding and inspiring us at almost every corner. Therefore it is no surprise that with the rise of social media there has been an increased awareness and interest in the vegan and vegetarian diet.

There are countless pictures, articles and recipes that are being shared on a daily basis about the vegan (and vegetarian) lifestyle which obviously implicates a widespread interest in this ‘Modern 21st century lifestyle’.  Social media websites such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr etc., make the whole ‘healthy lifestyle’ in general seem more appealing and almost desirable to the majority, as they have managed to make it look affordable and attainable.

One of the most prominent figures in the food blogging community is Ella Woodward, also known as Deliciously Ella, who has now gone on to release several recipe books, open up a deli café in the heart of London and is about to release her own range of products to supermarkets. That’s quite an impressive array of things to include on your resume, considering she is only 25 years old! I personally found out about Deliciously Ella through Instagram just over a year ago. With her now having 850,000+ followers on Instagram alone, you can see how influential social media can be in bringing veganism to people’s attention. Ella was a big inspiration to me since she made what people previously thought of as ‘unattainable recipes’ seem exceptionally easy to make as well as affordable, which at that time, I hadn’t seen many food bloggers do. Vegan food is often considered unaffordable since the majority of people believe it is mostly complex and requires a lot of specialist ingredients.

Undeniably, a lot of vegan recipes DO require specialist ingredients to make specific dishes, but vegan food is often less complex than people believe it to be. A prime example of that would be numerous Instagram accounts, such as ‘Vegan Hacks’ in which easy and attainable everyday recipes are shared with their followers, once again allowing them to understand and appreciate that vegan food CAN be fun, affordable and delicious!

“veganism is now often seen as being trendy”

Other social media influences such as YouTubers play a big part in keeping the vegan community thriving, since they are able to reach a different spectrum of the audience. Another person I am constantly inspired by is British YouTuber Niomi Smart, who has amassed quite a following online. Having 1.6+ million followers on YouTube alone, which, regardless of how many followers other social media influencers may have, is a very impressive number of people to follow and admire you! Niomi has also written a widely anticipated cook book called ‘Eat Smart’ that is due to be released at the beginning of September this year, which has been widely promoted across all her social media platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. She also partnered up with another YouTuber and their mutual friend to create their own business ‘SourcedBox’, focusing on bringing primarily healthy, vegan snacks to its subscribers (although their snacks do occasionally contain honey, making some of them non-vegan friendly). ‘SourcedBox’ has been a company that has only become possible due to YouTube, since the majority of the subscribers to this monthly box are followers of the YouTubers. This has allowed a different type of audience to be inspired by, and be able to try out, various vegan snacks that they may have never heard of before. It should also be noted that the YouTubers I’m talking about in particular – Niomi Smart and Marcus Butler – have a younger fan base, meaning veganism and vegetarianism are being easily promoted to younger generations. This could correlate to the sudden rise of vegan teenagers, since veganism is now often seen as being ‘trendy’. Younger generations have good vegan role models to inspire them and an access to various social media platforms to do their research about the widespread diet.

Twitter has also been responsible for the growth in popularity of veganism and vegetarianism on a different scale. I see more and more young and outspoken people voicing their opinions on different matters in regards to veganism on Twitter and bringing some important issues to light. Most recently, the widely controversial ‘Yulin Festival’ has once again made headlines across social media. For those who don’t know, the festival is an annual celebration held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, which spans about ten days during which it is estimated that 10,000–15,000 dogs are consumed each year.

You’re probably thinking, Eva, how has this got anything to do with veganism? Surely every person who is somewhat concerned with animal welfare would be against such a mistreatment of dogs in general? Well, I’m glad you asked (or didn’t ask). What I found rather fascinating was not only the amount of press coverage, angry posts on Facebook and sassy tweets I was seeing across the social media platforms about the festival, but also the amount of vegans and vegetarians who were coming out with valid comparisons between how we as a Western society are OUTRAGED by something like the Yulin festival, because we see dogs as ‘pets’ and animals that shouldn’t be eaten, yet treat animals such as pigs, cows and chickens with a different attitude.

“most people don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about a meat-eating festival”

Many were calling others out on how downright hypocritical it was to condemn the practice of the Yulin dog festival whilst ignoring the meat producing processes within their own countries. Whilst we can all agree that the meat industry in the UK is far better with its treatment of animals than a lot of other countries, most people don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about a meat-eating festival. Global outrage over this festival reached its peak in 2014/2015, and it was personally brought to my attention over the hashtag #stopyulin2015 trending on Twitter. This led me to learn more about the festival, like it did with thousands of other people. Social media campaigns have had a massive impact on spreading an awareness of the festival. By bringing up valid points about our mistreatment of animals in general, I have found a lot of people questioning their own beliefs in the meat industry and once again getting more interested in veganism.

It’s rather fascinating to see how the growth of social media itself is having an impact on the vegan/vegetarian community with more recipes, pictures, cooking videos and information becoming more accessible to the general public every day. I am optimistic that the trend of being fit and healthy will stay for a long time. I am also hopeful that the idea of veganism will be seen as a possible option to a bigger audience, as they have the fortunate chance of being educated about it further with the use of their everyday social media platforms.

Image: Helen Alfvegren, Flickr.

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