The plant-based revolution is here, and if recent headlines are anything to go by, it's here to stay. Now that people are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of consuming less, if any, animal products, more and more of us are adopting vegan and vegetarian diets - a decision no doubt informed by the improved number of options available.
However, because the number of meat-eaters significantly outweighs the number of vegetarians and vegans, as is the case with so many areas in life, the majority have taken to bullying those who're different from them.
New figures have revealed that a whopping 81% of vegans have attested to "experiencing prejudice", according to Plant-Based News. This information was obtained from a survey conducted by Lifesum. In a poll, those who identified as vegan and vegetarian in the UK and US were asked if they had "encountered prejudiced" as a result of their lifestyle choice.
The poll revealed that 92% of respondents had been criticized for adopting a plant-based diet by their friends and family, 59% said that it had caused issues for them when eating out, 55% in the workplace, and incredibly, it even caused problems for vegans and vegetarians who were simply grocery shopping, with 21% of respondents saying they had issues here too.
To shed light on the kind of problems vegans and vegetarians face, a number of 'victims' of this prejudice have opened up about their experiences, with some claiming that they have even been tricked into eating meat.
Pictured above is a woman named Leah Jennings. Like 61% of those surveyed, she has faced prejudice as a vegan eating out. She revealed that when she asked if there was a vegan option in a restaurant, she was laughed at by the server, and instead of being offered any kind of substantial alternative, was given a plate of spinach instead, the Daily Mail reported.
Meanwhile, Stef Bottinelli, pictured below, said of her vegan experience:
"Ever since starting my journey as a vegan at times, it's been challenging when eating out or while out in big groups, for example, a while back I went with friends to a vegetarian restaurant that had a couple of vegan options."
"Unfortunately, what I ordered what unpalatable and when I raised it to [the] staff I was made to feel like I should be grateful there was something vegan on the menu at all. I felt this from a couple of friends too, who seemed to think that I was just making a fuss."
"On another occasion, I went out for a dinner with my partner just outside London before Christmas. We called the pub in advance and we were told they had a good selection of vegan food, but once there, all we saw on the menu was veggie curry, which in fact wasn't vegan, so I ordered some olives instead, and that was my dinner."
And despite the fact that some cities have seemingly made a name for themselves as being good at catering to different dietary options, Shalini Soni, said that this was not her experience of living in London, which forced her back into eating meat.
"London is supposed to be a culinary hot spot of the world, however, not for vegans. I immigrated from India years ago and I love living here, but after coming from such a diverse food background, I struggled to find vegan food that actually had flavor."
"Sadly, because of the lack of choice and convenience, I have gone back to eating vegetarian and even started eating meat!"
"Dining out has been the biggest hurdle. I'm shocked how many waiters and waitresses don't know what vegan is. I've been served eggs, cheese and even milk with my coffee. Even when I state this upfront."
"The most concerning aspect for me is that I chose to be vegan as a lifestyle choice, however for those with special dietary requirements with allergies etc, it concerns me the levels of errors that happen in the hospitality sector."
Reacting to these claims of vegan prejudice, Markus Stripf, Co-founder & CEO of Spoon Guru, said:
"Whether due to an allergy or intolerance or simply just a lifestyle choice, there is an increase in the number of Brits adopting some form of [an] exclusion diet."
"People with dietary needs are no longer the minority, so there's no better time than the present to continue conversations and education about how to make food discovery more inclusive."
However, while the women above have had experiences of vegan prejudice, what they endured does not have a patch on the abuse 14-year-old Dante suffered, having been "punched by [a] bully who then tried to force-feed him bacon."
Opening up about her son's traumatic experience to the Mirror Online, his mom Rachel said, "They tried to force my son to eat bacon."
"There's a group but one boy did the damage while the others watched. Dante got hold of the boy's wrists to stop him putting meat in his mouth.
"But he headbutted my son then started repeatedly punching him on the side of the head on the temple."
Dante is far from the only vegan to have had meat forced upon them, either.
A less extreme example was cited by PBN who cited one participant saying in response to their vegan prejudice survey, "People have purposely put meat in products to see if I will eat it/try and trick me."
Clearly, this is a societal problem which, if suitable action is not taken to condemn perpetrators, will only grow with the popularity of veganism. At the end of the day, plant-based diets are a lifestyle choice, and vegans and vegetarians should be free choose what they eat, as is their basic human right, in exactly the same way as carnivores.