Go, vegans! Your choice is high in moral (and digestive) fiber.

CC BY 2.0 Helen Alfvegren

Enough with the jokes. Vegans should be respected for their dietary choice.

An op-ed in the Guardian yesterday called on the world to start praising vegans for their ethical dietary choice. For years vegans have been the butt of too many jokes, teased and stereotyped as “malnourished, pasty, hemp-clad and hectoring” hippies, obsessed with lentils and salads. This is unfortunate, considering what good a vegan diet does the planet. Vegans, write the Guardian editors, should be viewed as visionaries, progressives, activists – exactly what we need more of these days.

“There is now a great deal of convincing data that breeding animals for food dirties the air and chews up the earth. One recent peer-reviewed study… calculates that should the world go vegan, annual greenhouse gas emissions would halve and the new land used every year for each person would near-halve. The diet is also healthier. A study published in Nature predicts that global veganism would lead to 8.1 million fewer deaths per year.”

Change is in the air. Veganism has been growing rapidly in popularity, with one food industry report saying that veganism has grown 500 percent in the United States from 2014 till the present. British supermarket Tesco says its sales of vegan products are up 40 percent in the past year and Germany was recognized as launching the most vegan food products in the entire world last year. A report from Mintel suggests that 11 percent of Britons have attempted a vegan diet at some point.

An article called “Hail seitan! How vegan food got down ‘n dirty” gushes about the vegan junk food revolution that’s taking place. Diners can now satisfy their palates with jackfruit-based ‘chicken’ wings, seitan fried ‘chicken,’ tofu scampi, dairy-free mud pies and ice creams. Vegan food has become almost gluttonous in its richness, flavor, and inventiveness, to the point where vegan food festivals are selling out faster than meat-based ones.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the movement. As vegan blogger Tsouni Moss wrote, “The vegan junk food scene is so young, so there’s so much room for making things that no one has ever done before. If you’re in that field, you can have a lot of fun.”

After years of writing about issues with food production and diet, it's positively thrilling to see an ethical, healthy, and environmentally beneficial trend take off so drastically and even start to enter the mainstream consciousness. Whether or not you have embraced veganism yourself, at the very least it is time to acknowledge and respect the decision that vegans have made.

Related Content on Treehugger.com