Veganism is the newest social media trend. With the popularity start of the use of hashtag #vegan, vegan recipes, restaurants, and picture perfect vegan models have begun to take over Instagram feeds. Popular models such as Kendall Jenner have also joined the movement, posting about their glamorous vegan lifestyles on their social media accounts. By perpetuating the notion for their young followers that going vegan would allow them to have a lifestyle like their idols, such influencers have lured impressionable fans into the movement too. So how did the practice of completely eliminating a part of your plate become such a trend in our current society where everyone is striving for more?
Going vegan has many benefits, which is why hundreds of people have chosen to take on this lifestyle. Starting with the obvious, veganism prevents the exploitation of animals. Vegans save the environment and themselves, one plate at a time. They eat entirely plant based foods but are still able to maintain a healthy body and mindset. There is no need to torture and end the lives of thousands of livestock to have a healthy and happy meal. Additionally, the vegan diet shows to be healthier than the average meat-eater’s, as proven by the numerous health risks that vegans avoid. According to Livestrong USA, Vegans consume less saturated fats and in return are more immune to diseases, have more energy, and are receive their daily vitamins. Meat-eaters, on the other hand, have higher risks of contracting fatal diseases such as E. Coli and foodborne intoxication because of the poor and unsanitary conditions their food is raised in.
Because of the social boom of veganism, many people embark on their journey of this healthier way of life without proper research. Although there are several healthy benefits of going vegan, there is no guarantee that these benefits apply to everyone. It is completely possible to have a nutritional diet whilst eliminating all animal byproducts, but only if adequate meals are planned out. If not, there is a risk of suffering deficiency of vital nutrients such as Omega 3, Vitamin B, Iron and high quality protein. Many amateur vegans have the misconception that vegan food is limited to only salads, but there are plenty of delicious vegan recipes with relatively easy-to-find ingredients that can be found on food blogs such as the Minimalist Baker, The Korean Vegan, and many more.
With the growing attention towards plant-based diets in Korea, there has been a great increase in vegan restaurants here in Seoul. Mehr Lakhiani, a 17 year old female living in Korea, has been eating plant-based meals her entire life. During her time in Korea, she has seen the interest towards veganism grow, which in return has brought several new vegan restaurants. “Thanks to this,” she claimed, “I find it much more easy to be a vegan in today’s time compared to a few years ago in Korea.” She recommends Plant, the first ever vegan restaurant in Seoul located in Itaewon. Other vegan-friendly establishments include March Rabbit (Gangnam), Vegetus (Itaewon), and What A Salad (Itaewon).
Whilst a plant-based diet brings along countless food and environmental benefits, an abrupt change in lifestyle might not be the best way to tackle the challenge. Remember, do your research and take things slowly. Don’t dive straight into the deep end and end up having to be fished out of the water. Start from the shallow end and slowly cut down your animal consumption until you can live completely without it. Make the decision that is right for you, not what the media demands you make. Good Luck!