A plant-based lifestyle is becoming more mainstream


Aaliyah Alexander

Plant-based alternatives that are available at most mainstream grocery stores.

by Aaliyah Alexander, Staff Writer

The most common diet among us is what we would call an omnivore diet. From one generation to the next, consuming meat and animal by-products such as milk, eggs and cheese paired with a small portion of vegetables was the norm. No one questioned this lifestyle as there hadn’t been any alternatives presented until now. 

A plant-based diet is shifting from the outskirts to the spotlight in our culture. What was once an abnormal and often lowbrow lifestyle, in which meat was discarded and vegetables, grains, and fruit were embraced, is now gaining attention among the emerging generation as the plant-based community begins to produce look-alike alternatives to our meat-based diet. 

Name a favorite food of yours and the plant-based community probably has an alternative. 

According to The Economist, a quarter of 25-to 34-year-old Americans are vegans or vegetarians. As more people adopt this plant-based diet, the more we see major food chains adapting to fit the changing of times. 

Over half of the top 100 popular fast food franchises are modifying their menu by introducing more plant-based options. Chains such as Burger King, Dunkin’, Carl’s Jr. and Panera are among many who have chosen to appeal to this growing consumer demand. Even KFC, a thriving chicken corporation, announced its latest plant-based fried chicken earlier this year.

Grocery stores are also beginning to cater to a plant-based lifestyle. Carrying plant-based brands such as Daiya, Gardein, Beyond Meat and Morning Star Farms, grocery stores are making plant-based alternatives to meat more accessible for the average consumer. In the past two years, plant-based sales have increased 29% making it a $5 billion industry. 

Egg alternatives.
Egg alternatives. (Aaliyah Alexander)

With the alternatives that are comparable in look, texture and taste of meat and animal by-products, younger individuals are carrying the torch to a new way of eating. It also doesn’t hurt that celebrities, athletes and influencers are making the plant-based lifestyle more mainstream by talking about the many benefits on social media and in interviews. 

Being a vegan myself since 2014, I can personally attest to the change surrounding a plant-based lifestyle. Six years ago, I was often met with stares and chuckles when I told people I was plant-based. The plant-based community was the minority, but now people are becoming curious and more open to the idea of this lifestyle. 

I also grew up in Mississippi where grocery stores and fast-food chains were limited when it came to vegan alternatives, but I am proud to say this isn’t the case anymore. 

It’s easier now more than ever to adopt a plant-based diet. We see the proof in the pudding. The plant-based industry is thriving in this health-conscious and green generation. Soon, eating meat and animal by-products will be met with stares and chuckles. 

Aaliyah Alexander is a sophomore studying journalism and international studies. Follow her on Twitter @aaliyahdanyell.