The rise of the veggie

Rachel Christie 31 January 2014

As a dedicated carnivore, I had to put some research into the writing of this article. Talking to my various veggie friends, it’s interesting to see how many different theories there are about the rise of vegetarianism. It immediately becomes clear that a lot of the social stigma surrounding vegetarianism is gone: people no longer do a double take when you tell them you’ve sworn off the flesh of fluffy animals. Moreover, restaurants and cafés are much more receptive to the idea (the Rainbow Café in Cambridge, for example, is entirely vegetarian).On top of that, packaging in supermarkets has become clearer, making it easier to find out what you can and can’t eat. Meat substitutes such as Quorn are readily available, and in these credit crunching times, often cheaper – in Sainsbury’s, 500g of standard Quorn mince will set you back £3.00, but standard beef mince a whopping £3.95. Celebrities such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé are continuously glamourising these diets by embarking on high-profile ’22 day challenges’.

These days there are also new concerns that maybe haven’t bothered people before – vegetarianism is better for the environment; it’s a more efficient way of consuming energy, and we all know what cows produce! People are also more aware of issues of sustainability – particularly when it comes to fish. Plus, we now have much more insight into where our processed meat comes from (horse-meat, anybody?), meaning some people would rather stick to the more reliable, less suspicious non-meat options. Moreover, the constant barrage of health warnings about the dreaded cholesterol may send people seeking diets low in saturated fats – cutting out meat could begin to sound attractive. The Vegetarian Revolution is not, however, sweeping the globe. In France, Quorn is not nearly so readily available, making things more difficult; in Spain saying you’re a veggie will get you strange looks and potentially relegate you to the bread basket with fruit salad for pudding. Perhaps the day will come when it will spread and take over the world. But unless bacon suddenly stops being so tasty, that day may not be soon.