It’s that time of the year again – the gyms are packed, office desks are filled with leftover Christmas chocolates as colleagues rid their homes of temptation and the annual ‘veganuary’ has returned.
More shops than ever are jumping aboard the ‘save the planet and all its animals’ bandwagon this year.
M&S has launched a new Plant Kitchen range with all the ridiculously over-the-top concoctions you’d expect like Cauliflower popcorn, while Waitrose stays two steps ahead with Vegan Beet Wellingtons and Hoisin Jackfruit parcels.
And of course the whole country went into a frenzy when Greggs launched its new vegan sausage roll, with Piers Morgan ‘vomitting’ into a bin after having a bite and later ending up in hospital for apparent gastritis, shame he’s on the mend now.
But why is it picking what we put in our mouths brings out such bloodthirst?
The mere mention of tofu sends some people into a rabbit-food ranting ambush.
Granted you do get the odd vegan die-hard who spreads coconut almond butter on wheaten crackers, goes to jazz festivals at the weekend and pushes out social media posts each morning about slaughterhouses and why dairy products are disgusting.
However, for the most part, it’s meat eaters who poke fun at and provoke vegans and veggies.
How many times have you ever been asked why you are eating meat? Probably never.
Now how many times have you heard a veggie or vegan being asked about their life choices – and having to defend themselves while trying to tuck into their lunch?
Despite all the agro, vegans are on the rise. The menu has gotten much wilder, there are far more options on the table and vegan-only restaurants are springing up faster than you can say Tofurky.
According to new data from market research firm Mintel, the UK is now officially the world leader for vegan food launches.
Whether you like it or not, there is clearly a growing demand and people are seeing the benefits of a non-meat lifestyle.
Health, climate change, animal welfare...there’s many reasons more people are embracing plant-based living.
But let’s not get on any high horse (so to speak), there’s arguments from both sides as to which is the better lifestlye.
Instead of spitting venom about people being natural carnivores and getting high and mighty about protein levels, why not embrace the changing eating habits taking place in shops and society? Surely having more variety is good for everyone. People follow their diets for their own reasons. Some are doing it for moral/ethical causes, others just want to feel good and some people are simply very picky.
Personally, I’m not vegan. I’ve been vegetarian 12 years this month, but I still eat eggs, cheese, chocolate and milk. The market has changed for the better in that time and I’m very grateful for the variety.
But it’s sad that this progress is being smeared as an elitist movement pandering to the politically correct. It’s fuelled by the likes of Piers, who branded Greggs ‘PC-ravaged clowns’ for introducing the vegan sausage roll, which incidentally, has three grams more protein than its meat cousin.
Besides, this is all a bit ludicrous, because, like it or lump it, the so-called vegan/veggie movement is now mainstream.
You can argue till the cows come home (or are slaughtered if we’re being facetious), but letting people pick what they put in their mouth is surely a matter of courtesy and respect.
The steak jokes are getting stale.
Let us vegans and veggies eat our chickpeas in peace.