Millennials are known for a lot of things, but something that doesn’t come up is why they’ve adopted alternative dietary habits. More millennials are moving towards veganism, embracing vegetarianism, and even trying pescatarianism (vegetarians that eat fish.)
Given this trend, the real question is: Why now? Erica Dillion may just be able to answer that question.
Health, wellness, and fitness expert opinion
Dillion holds a degree in health wellness and fitness with a secondary background in the culinary arts. She always had a passion for cooking but began going to the gym to stay fit.
"As I met more people at the gym I began to take an interest. I wanted to know everything there was about fitness before I knew it I was going back to school to become a personal trainer," says Dillion.
Dillion points out that the old ways of treating vegetarians or vegans have changed. "We just don't fill a person full of pills and powders to replace the nutrients lost with the removal of meat or cheese from a diet. We have super foods now like soy and an even better understanding of existing food." She states that this makes it easier on everyone who are forgoing traditional diets but still wants to stay healthy.
She also feels that social media plays a big role in normalizing alternative dieting trends and bringing awareness to both the good and bad aspects of any diet. “You can actually see real people dieting in specific ways, see if it sticks, what your friends think, even see if celebrities are doing it." She continues to say that many millennials share what works with one another, come up with creative cooking solutions and often build a community of support for one another.
Dillion stresses that those considering a change to their dietary habits should plan and look at every angle before diving in. “The human body needs meat, and the immediate deprivation of it can cause problems. I personally wouldn’t go vegan, but I respect anyone’s decision. It takes a lot of commitment to do what they do.”
So how much actual effort does it take to live on an alternative diet, many jokes would suggest it just takes a pretentious attitude. Karyssa Mueller, vegan extraordinaire, can dispel those cliches and actually explain what it's like to be a vegan.
Muller has been a vegan for the past three years. She found the initial transition easier than most saying that, "I was already allergic to most milk and cheese, so it wasn't too much of a shock to cut out meat, especially after discovering how animals are turned into food."
However, she does say that, “It's a lot of work to be vegan. I really miss dessert." She elaborates by explaining that the choice to go vegan requires effort and painstaking research into everything that goes in, or near your body. She even goes so far as to mention that even the most insignificant thing like croutons, alcohol, or makeups can have animal byproducts.
She explains that these alternative diets are easier to maintain now because companies are taking notice. "Companies are starting to produce vegan-friendly items, and relying on soy products." Muller goes on to say that many big companies are even testing out vegan products. "When Kraft created a vegan-friendly co-co peanut butter spread it was amazing, didn't last very long but it was still pretty great."
Muller does agree that the internet has helped anyone who is struggling with a different method of eating. Saying that there's a lot more support groups on social media to help with recipes or find stores with the right products. Unfortunately, she does warn those that first-time vegans who don't get the right information can often have health problems ranging from weight issues due to the massive over-compensation of one food item for another, to lack of a proper diet due to budgetary limitations.
There are many different complex reasons why a person would choose to change what they eat. What is clear is that this isn't a fad but a way of life—that the way they eat as a reflection of their choices and who they are. Another big thing to look at is that businesses are becoming aware of this trend and if consumers don't take notice and think critically they could be taken for a wild ride.