2017 – Year of the vegan

Five major wins for veganism in 2017 setting us up for a successful year ahead

We’ve seen so much progress in the vegan world over the past twelve months that it’s safe to say that 2017 was the year that veganism went mainstream. And that makes 2018 an exciting year to advocate for veganism!

A quick look at Google Trends shows a marked growth of interest in veganism over the past two years. Plant Based News recently reported on a study by market analyst, GlobalData Retail supporting this trend. Molly Johnson-Jones, senior analyst noted, “I don’t think it’s a fad. I think it’s a genuine shift.”

Google Trends graph - vegan

But what factors are influencing this recent growth in interest in veganism? Social media and the easy availability of information on vegan living, foods, and recipes have certainly played a major role. But what else is spurring this trend? Are we entering an era of more deliberate thought about what we choose to eat?

We’ve highlighted five of the big vegan wins from 2017 that are already setting a precedent for 2018.

  1. A record number of media hits

Throughout 2017, mainstream media platforms around the globe, whether online, print, or television, ran news and opinion pieces on all things vegan — from HuffPost and The Washington Post to Sky News and The Guardian — so many that it’s becoming a challenge to keep up with all the coverage.

  1. Three influential documentaries hit global screens

2017 brought a diverse mix of vegan-themed films to global screens, from What The Health by the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy, Netflix’s very own action-adventure, OKJA, and The Last Pig, screened at film festivals and in communities across the world — something to suit everyone’s taste.

Consider screening one of these groundbreaking vegan films in your community this year. Find out how VegFund can support you today.

  1. Big brands and supermarkets jumped on the vegan bandwagon

Ben & Jerry’s launched a dairy-free range. Yes, that’s right — you can now indulge in many of their classic ice-cream flavors! That may be a good thing or bad thing, but it’s dairy-free, so we’ll take it, thank you. Stock up on a few tubs for your next food sampling. They’ll be a hit with passersby.

Major international dairy brand Danone entered the plant-based arena through its acquisition of WhiteWave, producer of well-known organic, non-GMO, plant-based brands such as Silk and So Delicious.

Tesco expanded its Free From range, adding a number of new vegan products, and then topped off their efforts nicely by launching a plant-based line of convenience foods — Wicked Kitchen — a great way to ring in the new year.

  1.  Celebrity influencers embraced plant-based living

More influential figures, including actors and elite athletes, embraced plant-based living during 2017, claiming it to be the best decision they’ve ever made and adding themselves to the ever-growing list of famous vegans. Celebrity influencers who switched to a plant-based diet in 2017 included:

  • Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black
  • Lewis Hamilton, Formula One world champion race car driver
  • Edie Falco, known for her role as Carmela on the HBO series The Sopranos
  • Ne-Yo, R&B Singer
  • Anthony Mullally, international rugby player

… to name just a few!

  1. Chain restaurants rolled out new menus

“Can we see the vegan menu please?”

“Yes, of course. No problem at all.”

… just a normal exchange when you walk into a fast-food or chain restaurant these days!

Building on progress seen in chain restaurants, cafes, and takeouts during 2016, many global chains added even more vegan options to their menus in 2017, making it easier than ever before to eat out with friends and family or grab something when you’re on the move.

Veganism is thriving

It’s not uncommon these days to overhear people talking about eating less meat and discussing plant-based alternatives when you’re out and about. The vegan conversation has officially broken into mainstream dialogue, and it’s expanding by the day.

A recent U.S. study from Mintel states:

“non-dairy milk sales have seen steady growth over the past five years, growing an impressive 61 percent since 2012, and are estimated to reach $2.11 billion in 2017.”

More and more studies are suggesting that plant-based food will be the biggest food trend in 2018.

What better time than now to be advocating for a more compassionate world? Whether you’re advocating for human health, the environment, or animal rights, these wins from 2017 will surely help make your work a little easier in the months to come. After all, food is the way to our hearts, right?

We can’t wait to see what this year has in store for veganism and for your outreach activities. And, don’t forget that VegFund is here to help. Find out more about our grant programs today!

What are your vegan outreach plans for 2018? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a reply by commenting on this post.

Celebrate World Vegan Day – Screen The Last Pig in your Community!

Looking for outreach ideas to mark World Vegan Day? Why not host a screening of The Last Pig? World Vegan Day, November 1st is an ideal time to raise AR awareness in your community (or any time in November). VegFund is eager to support animal rights activists like you in sharing this powerful film in communities across the globe! The film has just finished screening at independent theaters and on the festival circuit and is now available for community screenings. Read on to find out more about the film and how you can host a screening.

“THE LAST PIG is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Deeply immersive, the film follows a pig farmer through his final year of slaughtering pigs. Through sparse, intimate musings, the farmer reveals the growing conflict of a life spent ‘peddling in death.’ ”

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About The Last Pig

This intimate and deeply moving film asks its audience to understand the sanctity of life, with the goal of expanding our capacity for compassion. The Last Pig documents the journey of farmer Bob Comis’ final year farming pigs, with a soul-bearing and honest narrative about the ghosts that will haunt him forever and the struggles he faces to reinvent his life. Comis has been chronicling his life as a pig farmer via HuffPost and his personal blog for the past ten years.

The pace of the film is unhurried and meditative, enabling the viewers to absorb life on the farm and in the slaughterhouse. With stunning cinematography and a beautiful backdrop, Argo documents the life of this small-scale livestock farmer in meticulous detail. Her work illuminates the reality of this industry on a most humane level — from the always entertaining and unique nature of pigs, to the unsettling sounds of the slaughterhouse where their lives draw to a close.

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This feature-length documentary will move your audience and inspire them to question the role of farm animals in our lives. Interested in hosting a screening? Read on for some recommended steps to get started!

Host A Screening

  • Review Screening Guidelines:

Review our screenings guidelines and consider whether you’d like to plan a screening event on your own or in partnership with a local vegan or animal rights group. Also consider what kind of venue you’d choose to screen the film. VegFund is able to cover some of the costs associated with renting a space as well as vegan food samples for audience members.

  • Apply for a grant!

Once you decide you are ready to host a screening, please visit VegFund’s grant application portal to apply for grant funding to cover the film’s license as well as certain event-related costs.

We’ve already heard from activists across the globe expressing their interest in hosting a screening of this film. Join them and play a part in changing hearts and minds. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via conferences@vegfund.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

For the pigs.

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About The Filmmakers

The Last Pig Director/Producer, Allison Argo of Argo Films:

Allison Argo is a six-time Emmy-winning filmmaker and noted animal advocate. Her inspiring films, all broadcast by PBS and National Geographic, have won more than 80 awards internationally and have reached audiences worldwide. Argo has worked on the frontline for over 20 years, fighting for the just treatment of nonhuman beings. She is known for her emotionally-charged and meaningful films, particularly her intimate portraits of endangered and abused animals.

The Last Pig Producer/Cinematographer, Joseph Brunette:

Producer and Director of Photography, Joseph Brunette, is an award-winning cinematographer whose work has appeared on National Geographic, CNN, PBS, NOVA, Nature, Discovery, and History. Brunette has an ability to capture the essence of even the most poignant moments, and his sensitive work behind the camera enables a level of intimacy and honesty that reveals the vulnerable heart of any story. The Last Pig holds special meaning for Brunette, who has long been an advocate for animal welfare and the environment.

Food, Glorious Food!

“From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career” – A webinar with a former VegFund grantee

As vegans, we celebrate plant-based foods as delicious, healthful, ethical, and compassionate. Plant-based foods are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the food-service industry. If you’ve ever entertained thoughts of working in the area of vegan food service, read on!

Last month, Liz Gary, founder of the New Options Food Group in San Diego and former VegFund grantee joined us to present our third activist training webinar “From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career.” Liz shared her experience in the vegan food business along with her insider recommendations for finding or creating new career opportunities as plant-based foods professionals — whether full-time/career-track or part-time.

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We hope those of you who joined us found the topic inspiring. For those of you who were not able to attend, you can view the full presentation at VegFund’s  Activist Resource Center. Below is just a “taste” of the valuable information Liz conveyed in the webinar.

“Everywhere you go there is opportunity.” ~ Liz

Liz’s tips on getting started in the vegan food business and where to find or create jobs fell into the following categories:

  • Community engagement
  • Rewarding jobs in education
  • Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry
  • Culinary travel and tourism
  • Special events and media

Community engagement

Get involved in the local community

  • Find out what events are happening near you — green fairs, cooking classes, food tastings, community markets, etc.
  • Better still — organize your own vegan food fair! You can apply for grant support from VegFund here.
  • Watch for paid and voluntary opportunities at nonprofit animal rights organizations such as The Humane League, Vegan Outreach, Farm Sanctuary, and FARM
  • And network, network, network!
Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

 “Outreach and community engagement translate into growth in the plant-based foods economy.” ~ Liz

Rewarding jobs in education

Consider teaching or setting up a “vegan cook club” within your local community! The following venues offer great opportunities to educate and engage with your community:

  • Retail kitchen stores
  • Cooking schools
  • Local community colleges, high schools, your local public library
  • Hospitals
  • Test-kitchen Tuesdays (donation-based community classes)

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Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry

Offer your plant-based food expertise and consult with the main drivers of the food network:

  • Represent locally made plant-based products
  • Sell your products and services to your local hospitals
  • Consult with chefs
  • Get \on-board with popular political food days, such as Meatless Mondays and California Fresh Thursdays and use these as an opportunity to work more closely with your local schools
  • Work with food administrators and distributors at correctional institutions
Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

 Culinary travel and tourism

Excite your local community with the offer of organized day trips to learn more about the benefits of plant-based foods. The following suggestions are popular options:

  • Vegan restaurant trips
  • Trips to Whole Foods Market
  • Visit an animal sanctuary
  • Vegan food and fashion shopping trips
  • Visit a nonprofit animal rights office
  • And more!
Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

 Special events and media

Holiday-themed events are a great starting point for engaging your community, especially if they translate well into a great local story or news item.

  • Organize events around annual vegan holidays and national events, and get your community involved along the way; for example, Vegan Valentine’s Fun Run, Vegan Octoberfest, Cookie Bake-a-thon
  • Talk to news organizations (whether print or TV) about vegan food
  • Arrange lunch-time talks within local schools and workplaces
Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

There are many opportunities waiting for you. Take the first steps today and build from there. Find out more about VegFund’s grant programs to support activists in their vegan outreach efforts.

The full webinar recording and slide show summary of key points are now available in our Activist Resource Center, where you can view all webinars from the training series so far. We also provide other online resources to support you in your animal advocacy.

If you have suggestions for resources you’d like to see featured on here send them our way for consideration. Email info@vegfund.org or tell us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and on Twitter. If you have specific questions for Liz on the content of this webinar, you can contact her directly via email: liz@newoptionsfoodgroup.com.