Why people in rich coun­tries are ea­ting more ve­gan food

Com­ment le vé­ga­nisme est de­ve­nu ten­dance dans les pays oc­ci­den­taux.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito | Sommaire -

Le vé­ga­nisme, consis­tant à ne consom­mer au­cun pro­duit is­su des ani­maux ou de leur ex­ploi­ta­tion, semble être en pleine ex­pan­sion dans les pays oc­ci­den­taux. Des sous-cou­rants de ce ré­gime ali­men­taire, tel que le « flexi­ta­risme », ont aus­si fait leur en­trée dans le lan­gage cou­rant. Mais que disent les chiffres ? Se pour­rait-il que le vé­ga­nisme ne soit qu’un simple phé­no­mène de mode ? Un jour­na­liste de The Economist mène l’en­quête...

It is lunch­time and a queue is for­ming for the bur­gers at Kro­war­zy­wa, vo­ted the ci­ty’s best in an on­line poll: stu­dents, fa­mi­lies, bu­si­ness­men in suits. This is War­saw, where (you might think) lunch is usual­ly a slab of meat with a side or­der of sau­sage. But at Kro­war­zy­wa no ani­mals were har­med in the ma­king of the food. The bur­gers are made of millet, to­fu or chick­peas. The best­sel­ling “ve­gan pas­tra­mi” is made of sei­tan, a wheat-ba­sed meat sub­sti­tute. 2. War­saw has al­most 50 ve­gan res­tau­rants. That does not mean it has all that ma­ny ve­gans. Kas­sia, a 20-so­me­thing pro­fes­sio­nal in the queue, says she has no ethi­cal ob­jec­tion to ea­ting meat. She comes to Kro­war­zy­wa be­cause she likes the food. Kor­nel Ki­sa­la, the head chef, thinks that most of Kro­war­zy­wa’s clien­tele eat meat, but it does not wor­ry him. “Ani­mals don’t care whe­ther you eat a ve­gan bur­ger be­cause it is fa­shio­nable or be­cause it is tas­ty.” Al­to­ge­ther, 60% of Poles say they plan to cut back on meat this year. Ea­ting ve­ge­ta­rian and ve­gan meals now and then is one of the ways some choose to do so.

ACROSS THE RICH WORLD

3. In­te­rest in ve­gan food has been boo­ming across the rich world. Ce­le­bri­ty claims of ve­ga­nism are eve­ryw­here: Bill Clin­ton and Al Gore, Se­re­na and Ve­nus Williams, Le­wis Ha­mil­ton, Mike Ty­son, Beyon­cé, take your pick. In Ame­ri­ca sales of “plant-ba­sed” foods—a term for foods that contain no meat, eggs or dai­ry—rose 20% in the year to June 2018, ac­cor­ding to Niel­sen,

a mar­ket-re­search group. That was two and a half times fas­ter than ve­gan foods grew in the year be­fore.

4. McDo­nald’s is of­fe­ring McVe­gan bur­gers in Scan­di­na­via. The Ame­ri­can res­tau­rants in the TGI Fri­days chain sell soya­bean bur­gers that ooze blood made of bee­troot juice. Wai­trose, a posh Bri­tish gro­ce­ry chain, in­tro­du­ced a range of ve­gan food in 2017, and says sales of ve­gan and ve­ge­ta­rian foods in Ju­ly 2018 were 70% above the le­vel in Ju­ly 2017.

5. Some people see great things in this. Two years ago Eric Sch­midt, a Si­li­con Val­ley fi­gure who used to be chair­man of Google, cal­led plant-ba­sed meat sub­sti­tutes the world’s most im­por­tant fu­ture tech­no­lo­gy; he fo­re­saw them im­pro­ving people’s health, re­du­cing en­vi­ron­men­tal de­gra­da­tion and ma­king food more af­for­dable for the poor in de­ve­lo­ping coun­tries. The foun­der of the first ve­gan so­cie­ty said in 1944 that “in time [people] will view with abhor­rence the idea that men once fed on the pro­ducts of ani­mals’ bo­dies.” Ma­ny since have sha­red his hope. Per­haps their time is come at last.

MEAT CONSUMPTION

6. If so, it is a slow co­ming. Meat consumption world­wide has been gro­wing consis­tent­ly by al­most 3% a year since 1960, most­ly be­cause people in poor coun­tries buy more meat as they get ri­cher, and the trend has yet to slow. In the ear­ly 1970s the ave­rage Chi­nese per­son ate 14kg of meat a year. Now they eat 55kg. But though most growth in consumption has been in the de­ve­lo­ping world, rich coun­tries are ea­ting more meat, too; their consumption is just not gro­wing as fast as it used to. Ac­cor­ding to the UN’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­sa­tion (FAO), meat consumption in the ri­chest na­tions has ri­sen 0.7% a year since 1991.

7. In Ame­ri­ca, Niel­sen found in 2017 that 3% of the po­pu­la­tion cal­led them­selves ve­gans and 6% ve­ge­ta­rians (people who es­chew meat, but eat eggs and/ or dai­ry pro­ducts). But more de­tai­led re­search by Fau­na­ly­tics, a com­pa­ny which has been run­ning large sur­veys of ea­ting ha­bits for 20 years, puts the num­bers at just 0.5% for ve­gans and 3.4% for ve­ge­ta­rians.

WHO ARE THE VE­GANS?

8. The idea that ve­ga­nism is most wi­de­ly es­pou­sed, if not ne­ces­sa­ri­ly adhe­red to, by the young seems to be true in ma­ny coun­tries. In Ger­ma­ny, ac­cor­ding to Min­tel, a re­search firm, 15% of 16- to 24-year-olds say that they are ve­ge­ta­rian, com­pa­red with 7% of the po­pu­la­tion at large. In ma­ny coun­tries de­cla­red ve­gans lean to­wards the po­li­ti­cal left. In Ame­ri­ca, pol­ling by Pew has found that 15% of li­be­rals es­pouse a meat-free diet, as op­po­sed to 4% of Re­pu­bli­cans, and three-quar­ters of ve­gans and ve­ge­ta­rians are wo­men.

9. Ve­ga­nism is not a way of life that it is ea­sy to keep up. Ac­cor­ding to Fau­na­ly­tics, for eve­ry ac­tive Ame­ri­can ve­ge­ta­rian or ve­gan there are more than five people who say they have aban­do­ned such a diet. The growth in the num­ber of res­tau­rants ca­te­ring to ve­ga­nism and the avai­la­bi­li­ty of plant-ba­sed pro­ducts on shelves may re­duce this churn and al­low more to stick with the pro

gramme.

CA­SUAL VE­GA­NISM

10. Ove­rall, though, it seems safe to say that the num­ber of people so­me­times or re­gu­lar­ly choo­sing to eat ve­gan food is gro­wing much fas­ter than the growth in people dee­ply com­mit­ted to a meat-, egg- and dai­ry-free life. Pa­trice Bu­la, a vice-pre­sident at Nest­lé, says he thinks that on­ly a quar­ter of the people buying his com­pa­ny’s ve­gan meals are com­mit­ted ve­ge­ta­rians or ve­gans. People in this lar­ger group are of­ten cal­led “flexi­ta­rians”, who shift back and forth bet­ween om­ni­vo­rous and ve­ge­table diets. Al­most two Ame­ri­cans in five say they fit this ca­te­go­ry, says Niel­sen. The true ve­gan ef­flo­res­cence lies in ca­sual, part-time ve­ga­nism.

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