What’s behind the vegan trend? Could it be…Instagram?

I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for a big chunk of my life. Sure, I’ve gone through periods where I’ve eaten meat, but those have felt more the exception than the rule.

In other words, unlike golf or embroidery or a dozen other things I’ve taken up in spurts over the years, being vegan (or at least vegetarian) feels like a fairly stable part of me, of who I am.

Now, I’m not entirely stupid. I understand that veganism is on-trend these days–the fact that Gordon Ramsay (!!!) has announced plans to go vegan makes that plain as day. Knowing that the trend might fade sooner or later doesn’t worry me. Hell, I’m just happy that more folks are giving veganism a shot. When they do, companies change their offerings to meet demand, and even if those offerings get scaled back, incremental progress has been made.

But there’s an intriguing piece in last week’s Independent that suggests veganism might have some staying power. And it has everything to do with food blogging on Instagram:

So how did veganism go from a mocked subculture to a mainstream lifestyle choice?

According to Google trends, searches for “veganism” have been rising steadily since 2012 in a similar trajectory to “Instagram”.

While the photo-sharing app was launched exclusively on iOS in 2010, it became more widely-used in 2012 when a version for Android devices was released.

Now, with more than 800 million users, it’s practically everyone’s favourite social media platform.

Could it be that Instagram is responsible for veganism’s PR overhaul, in which it has transformed from a kooky diet to an aesthetically-pleasing cacophony of “earth bowls” and “green goddess” smoothies?

“The vegan community are incredibly active online,” explains Beth Trundle, head of food at marketing agency Social Chain.

This is likely because their dietary choices are driven by their fundamental beliefs, she explains, which can boost their social media activity as they are keen to share their passion for veganism with the world.

Is that proof of causality–proof that Instagram gave rise to the current popularity of veganism? No, but it’s an interesting theory. And a pretty interesting read.

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