Veganism goes mainstream
As recently as a decade ago, people who identified themselves as vegans were likely to be teenage girls determined to save the world’s animals. They were considered eccentric if not weird, and many parents fretted over whether their vegan children were getting enough protein or vitamins.
As anyone who attended the three-day VegFest in Rehoboth Beach can attest, times have changed. Fast. Sandwiched between a vegan dinner and documentary film at Hobos June 13 and a vegan brunch with poetry at Nage June 15 was a festival featuring scores of exhibitors demonstrating just how mainstream vegan food, clothing and philosophy have become.
A dozen local restaurants, bread and bake shops, and juice bars offered specialties alongside numerous groups that promote humane treatment for all animals.
The event also featured outdoor yoga and information on natural skin care, food and drinks for vegan athletes, clothing made from natural fibers and alternative medicine for both people and animals.
The event shows that foods formerly hard to find in stores are now widely available here in the Cape Region. From quinoa to chia seeds, once-exotic items appear prominently on many local menus and as ready-to-eat choices at farmers markets and specialty shops.
While some have turned to plant-based eating to lower cholesterol, lose weight, or overcome diet-based health conditions, others are motivated by compassion for animals produced solely as food, in industrial-style conditions. Still others, endurance athletes, are turning away from steaks and burgers because they say a vegan diet gives them an edge, allowing them to recover faster and train harder.
In short, the many booths and activities featured at VegFest show people with widely varying interests are coming together through a way of eating and living that only a few years ago was viewed as way out on the edge.
Even here in lower, slower Delaware, veganism is now mainstream, and its quickly growing legions of advocates would say that’s likely to result in a happier, healthier community.