Rhetorics of veg(etari)anism
The current vegan cultural movement has been gaining significant momentum in the past couple of decades. Veganism has been hailed as the top consumer trend in 2018 (Just Eat). At least 6% of the U.S. population declared themselves to be vegans in 2017, up from just 1% in 2014, according to a recent report (GlobalData). “Plant-based” has been declared the new organic. Certainly, the number of vegan meal options are on the rise in every restaurant and supermarket, and cookbooks, cook shows, and food culture in general have been transformed accordingly. Meals are being “veganized,” fashion designers are ditching fur, more cosmetic labels are vying for the “cruelty free” label, circuses using animals are gradually closing down, farm sanctuaries are cropping up everywhere, and vegans have harnessed the powers of social media to spread their message far and wide. Meatless Mondays, Vb6 (Vegan before 6) and various other variations of veganism marketed for those reluctant to ditch meat are gaining in popularity. Celebrities go vegan, pose for PeTA ads, and conduct their own media campaigns to encourage the spread of the movement. “Vegan documentaries” (Earthlings, Forks over Knives, What the Health, Dominion, Cowspiracy) and the occasional feature film (Okja) focused on revealing the extent and implications of animal exploitation have attracted a large viewership. Accumulated evidence points to the connection between industrial animal farming and global warming and other disastrous environmental consequences. Clearly, we are witnessing a vegan awakening.