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Veganism, What's it all About?

As of recently, we here at Dinner Thyme Private Chefs have we have seen an increase in the requests for special diets, vegan, vegetarian and plant based meals. I actually enjoy researching, planning and cooking for these events. Why? Primarily because I personally try to follow a healthy diet that includes vegetarian options. So what actually is the difference? Let's start of with a little chuckle, then on to the real story!

For the first time in history, interest in vegetarianism is on its way to becoming mainstream. After being embraced by countless people over millennia, it is still not typical—with just 5 percent of American adults self-identifying as vegetarian (abstaining from all meat), and another 2 percent as vegan (abstaining from all meat, eggs, and dairy), according to a July 2012 Gallup poll—although these numbers are growing. However, when they are added to the more than 47 percent of adult Americans who acknowledge a wish to decrease their meat consumption (according to a 2011 USA Today report), one could argue that the desire to eat less or even no meat is finally becoming the norm. Four consecutive years of decline in U.S. meat consumption, from 2006 to 2010—the first on record—and USDA projections of further declines offer additional evidence that a profound shift is under way.

Eating vegetarian, and even vegan, is easier than ever before. The proliferation of dedicated vegetarian restaurants—from upscale Vedge in Philadelphia, which GQ named one of the best new restaurants of 2012, to fast-casual chains like Native Foods and Veggie Grill—not to mention vegetarian menu options everywhere from Chipotle and Subway to DANIEL and the French Laundry to countless independent Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, and other ethnic restaurants, makes vegetarian dining a no-brainer. At the same time, the rapid growth in farmers’ markets, CSAs, and vegetarian cookbooks and media have been a boon to home cooks. Even veganism is less challenging, as evidenced by more widespread availability of nondairy milks (which saw U.S. sales topping $1.4 billion in 2013), nondairy butters (e.g., Earth Balance) and nondairy cheeses (e.g., Daiya), as well as eggless mayonnaises (e.g., Vegenaise).

There is so much more to explain, but let's save that for another day. Looking for more information, or maybe help getting on the path to a healthier lifestyle? Try one of our online programs in nutritional health, coaching and motivation. Cheers, have a great week!

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