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Veganism: A New Lifestyle

At the beginning of this month, the 7th annual vegan festival, which drew around 10,000 participants, was held at the Oil Tank Culture Park in Seoul. Since the increase in the number of vegans is a global trend, vegans amongst Kingos must have increased as well. Veganism is not restricted to the eating habit of not consuming meat. It has, however, turned into a way of life. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) decided to introduce vegan trends and discusses the future of veganism in Korea.

The Understanding of Veganism

The Explanation and Growth of Veganism

The types of vegetarianism can vary depending on the type of foods a person consumes such as dairy products, eggs, fish, or avian meat. Veganism follows the strictest form of vegetarianism. Vegans abstain from eating all meat, seafood, eggs, milk, and honey and they do not use any animal products. According to the Korea Vegetarianism Union (KVU), vegetarians make up 2 to 3 percent of the Korean population, which is about 1 million to 1.5 million people, and among vegetarians, about half a million are vegans. Due to the rise of living standards, the consciousness of personal health, the environment, and animal rights have also been accentuated, and veganism has risen to become mainstream culture

The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid (brunch.co.kr)

from minority culture. The main agents of veganism are the millennials who were born in the early 1980s and 2000s. Since they have been using more advanced internet technologies and have had the opportunity for further education compared to other generations, millennials are known to be more concerned about the environment and ethics.

The Development of Veganism

The Spread of “Good Production” and Vegan Trends

Vegan trends can be described as an increase in product development and consumption driven by an increased interest in veganism. The word vegan, known as a type of vegetarianism, is now used as a prefix for environmently-friendly products in many industries. Following the full vegan trend includes purchasing cruelty-free cosmetics and

A Picture of Vegan Desserts and Drinks (futurechosun.com)

boycotting fur coats for animal rights. It can be inferred that the increasing demand for vegan goods and services is driving business investment in many industries. More investment means that as the vegan culture spreads, the movement of various industries to enter the vegan market can be witnessed more frequently. Moreover, given the current trends of non-vegetarians’ caring more about environmental protection and following the vegetarian diet, the continuation of the expansion of the vegan industry can be expected.

Vegan Trends in Various Fields

The popularity of veganism is not only limited to food production. It is also leading the development of various vegan products, which is impacting animal ethics and the environment positively. In August 2019, Hong Kong’s vegan food company, Avant Meats announced that vegetarian seafood made from vegetable proteins would be commercialized soon, in addition to conventional fake meats. To be more precise, fake salmon has been developed already through plant cell culture; however, the production cost is way too high, and when cooked, the flesh gets crushed. Vegetable seafood is expected to suggest a new paradigm of vegetarianism. Moreover, cosmetic companies with a huge market size are believed to be leading the vegan trend. According to Grandview Research, an American market research institution, the global vegan cosmetics market is estimated to grow to 23 trillion won by 2025. Cosmetic companies not only care about excluding animal ingredients in packaging but are also trying to eliminate animal testing in the manufacturing process. In the UK, a vegan fashion company, Bourgeois Boehm sells shoes made of Piñatex, a leather made from pineapple leaves and stems. The leather made of plant materials decomposes faster and less harmful chemicals are generated during the manufacturing process.

The Future of Veganism

The Improvement of Awareness at SKKU

Only by looking at the case of our school, can it be assumed that Korea is a difficult place to practice veganism. According to a cafeteria official, interviewed by the SKT for an article in May 2019, the meat is taken out of food for vegetarians when requested. The official’s response, however, lacks an understanding of vegetarianism. Most vegetarians do not eat meat or fish broth, and they cannot pick out all the meat from the food. Therefore, it would be a good idea to have options for a vegan diet on the menu that can make the students think about animal rights and what veganism is. Also, preparing vegan food guarantees the rights of vegan students in the school. In fact, since the second semester of 2017, SKKU’s student council of the department of sociology has been distributing vegan snacks during exam periods. According to the sociology student council, the demand for vegan snacks has been high, and many students are satisfied with the student council’s decision with snack distribution.

The Needs for Developing Veganism in Korea

Even though the number of vegans in Korea equates to over half a million, vegans are still facing a shortage of vegan food and products. Making the matter worse though, the research and development of domestic vegan products, however, is not making much progress except for the research of the food industry and vegan cosmetics. Since vegan products are beneficial to ethics and the environment, they need to be actively researched and developed more. Germany, where vegetarianism is fully accepted as a personal right with nearly 8 million vegetarians, is a place where Kingos can get a glimpse of a desirable future of Korea’s vegan industry. As the demand for vegetarianism has increased in Germany, a variety of vegan related businesses has sprung up around Schivelbeiner Street, Berlin. The so-called “vegetarian street” is packed with a variety of vegan products. There, everything in grocery stores, cafes, ice cream, bookstores, and clothing stores is vegan. This street is also home to Veganz. It is the largest vegetarian supermarket with a total of 10 business chain stores across Europe and a few more in the US and China which sells everything from vegan dairy products, toilet paper, and detergents, to condoms.

A German Vegan Supermarket, Veganz (naturalproductsglobal.com)

It is time that veganism is accepted as a way of life with the spread of proper awareness of veganism. For the freedom of thought and more simply for the right of personal health, a social atmosphere in which to practice veganism is essential. The SKT hopes for a brighter society that encourages the purchase of vegan products and an environment where people can freely try vegetarianism of various types.

김도영  takeiteasy0528@naver.com

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