There’s been movement in the vegan world of late; movement that is game-changing. Big businesses are developing vegan versions of foods, corporate supermarket chains are selling those foods, airlines are adding vegan menu items to their food service trolleys and big hotel chains are selling vegan food offerings. Celebrities and people of influence are adopting a vegan diet. There are Meatless Monday campaigns to help lead people away from meat and dairy. The accelerated rate this has been happening over the past year, I think, is unprecedented.
Parallel to this movement is the current commentary in the media being heavily focused on climate change. The commentary is asking how we as humans can all do our bit to help relieve the accelerated pace that climate change is affecting our planet. Readers and listeners alike are being called to action – in order to minimise climate change, we need to adopt a plant-based lifestyle.
We are living in a time of vulnerability. Our planet is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, our health is vulnerable to the effects of a diet heavy in meat and dairy and our communities are vulnerable to fluctuations in economics. We can be revolutionaries, and there hasn’t been a more optimal time, a more urgent time, to travel the vegan road. For non-vegans, this is a state of flux. Though, it’s becoming more acceptable to be vegan.
Five or ten years ago, veganism existed on the outer fringes of our communities. I liken it to punk rock, in a way, and veganism was approached with a similar DIY (do it yourself) ethic. Vegan businesses emerged as a way to offer vegans vegan foods and food substitutes to those yearning for vegan options. The mainstream societal systems at the time were (and still are, to a certain extent) in conflict with veganism. Vegans were saying no to these systems.
For emerging vegan businesses, it was a matter of being of service to others. Customers helped businesses to stay in business by buying their products. Vegan businesses were helping customers by giving them a way to live vegan without having to bend to the system that was in conflict with their compassionate views. Vegan businesses were propped up by those in the vegan community. Customers helped vegan businesses achieve their vegan missions, an act of small-scale tribalism –small pockets of communities supporting those getting the vegan message out there. Buying products, participating in fundraisers for animal rescue groups and participating in protests were ways in which vegan communities galvanised. This activity was held in the hope that vegans could influence change within those societal systems that were a detriment to the health and wellbeing of animals and the planet.
Nothing much has changed in this way of thinking in 2019. However, big business is now seeing the vegan road as the most sustainable one for the future of animals and the planet. The vegan communities of five or ten years ago are now seeing their work ‘paying off’, if I can suggest this, in ways of influence. The mainstream systems are changing and becoming more welcoming of veganism. Veganism is edging towards the spotlight rather than existing on the fringes in smaller communities.
So, where does this leave those early vegan pioneers? They have crafted the platform on which veganism can be talked about and expressed. Veganism is becoming increasingly accessible though sadly some of those vegan pioneers are shutting up shop. There’s simply not enough funds to keep their businesses alive and thriving. It leads back to that earlier point regarding the DIY ethic.
The vegan DIY ethic requires community and patronage. Asking your immediate vegan community about which businesses need your immediate support is a big part of this. It’s at ground level where you can understand veganism and how hyper-local actions can make waves to influence those bigger systems. Influence those bigger thinkers with your small actions of support.
Also, be intuitive and explore which vegan businesses are in need of your hard-earned dollars. Bring it back to basics: if you’re hungry or in need of clothing, explore your local vegan communities when it’s financially and geographically possible to do so. Share your positive experiences across your socials and during your conversations with friends and family. Establish and nurture those intimate connections with your local vegan businesses. You can then be the example to the greater hoards who may be sitting on the non-vegan/vegan fence. This is where you can truly make a difference while ensuring vegan businesses can survive.
So, how do you support your local vegan businesses? Are there some favourites you have found? If you’re ever travelling in Australia, you can check out my Aussie Vegan Directory where you can explore the places I’ve tried and supported first-hand.