The whole month of October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of the many benefits of a plant-based diet for their health, the animals and the environment.
A study published by Vegetarian Times showed 7.3 million Americans follow a vegetarian diet, and there are now 1 million vegans in the United States and growing. Just as exciting are 23 million Americans who say they are vegetarian inclined. We expect that many of those inclined will eventually join the ranks of vegetarians and vegans in the United States.
The growth of vegetarians in the United States is reflected in the quickly growing sales of plant-based foods. Recent data shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11 percent in the past year, several times the rate of conventional food growth, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion. Plant-based milk leads the way followed by plant-based meat products. The overall quality of these foods has improved in recent years, leading to many non-vegetarians being willing to give these products a try and incorporate them into their diets.
New vegetarians and vegans are popping up everywhere these days. We’re hearing of vegetarian athletes, doctors, congressmen and cabinet members, teachers and truck drivers – a broad range of the community. Especially impressive is the recent growth of the number of vegetarians and vegans in the Black community, which has a significantly higher growth than among White people.
We can increase awareness even more. If you, or someone you know, is considering a plant-based diet, this is the perfect time to give it a try. You can encourage others by sharing your own journey, sharing meal ideas, recipe sources and restaurant suggestions, and answering their questions without judgement. It is also helpful to suggest that they don’t need to do it all at once – they can proceed at their own pace and do the best they can – as the concept of making a big change to your diet can seem overwhelming at first.
You can also direct people to the many resources we offer including:
- Our books:
- Our website, which is packed with articles on every veg topic imaginable
- Our classes, which can guide the beginner and provide answers to their questions
The important thing is to plant a seed, invite curiosity and encourage exploration, then give them time for that seed to grow! To start the conversation with someone new, see our article in this month’s newsletter on how to answer why you went vegetarian without offending someone!