Exponential Change: Creating A Vegan World in our Lifetime

People are often shocked to discover that I believe the world will go vegan in my lifetime. Why am I convinced that a vegan world is just around the corner? Because of the power of exponential growth.

Exponential Growth

Back in 1990, scientists began studying the human genome. It took over 7 years and 1 billion dollars to map 1% of the human genome. Critics looked askance at the project. After all, what good was the promise of mapping the human genome if it took over 700 years and 700 billion dollars to accomplish?

But people with an abundant mindset, who understood the concept of exponential growth saw things much differently. Within the next 7 years, and for only an additional $1.7 billion dollars, we mapped the human genome.

To recap, it took 7 years to sequence the first 1% of the human genome. It took over a decade to sequence the first human genome. By 2010, a genome could be sequenced in less than a week. In 2012 it could be done in a matter of hours.  That is the power of exponential growth.

We can do the same with veganism. In fact, we are doing it already! The popularity of veganism has grown exponentially over the past decade, with no signs of stopping. Thanks to economics, technology and motivated activists, we are just at the beginning of a powerful sea change that will forever transform the way we relate to other sentient beings.

Is Veganism Following an Exponential Growth Pattern?

In 2014, just 1% of US consumers claimed to be vegan. By 2017, that number exploded to over 6%. What changed?

A number of things. For one, social media had vastly increased consumer access to information about veganism. But for another, veganism had grown as social movement thanks to the combination of increased awareness and consumer behaviour. Plant-based milks will account for 20% of all milk sales by 2021, whereas non-dairy options represented just 5% of the market in 2002.

More and more young people are considering veganism as a viable lifestyle change, with over 50% of Millennials in the UK reporting that they’d consider going vegan.

If you think in a linear manner, these numbers aren’t terribly exciting. If nothing changes, it could take 94 more years for the world to go vegan. But if we dive deeper into the rate of growth, it gets a lot more exciting.

Factors that will Create a Vegan World

There are three main factors that I believe will lead veganism to grow exponentially. The first is economics, which I discussed more thoroughly in this recent post. The second is technological changes in food production, which will be driven largely by economics. We’ve already seen this with the rapid expansion of incredible plant-based companies like Hampton Creek and Beyond Meat.  Together, economics and new technologies will help encourage the rapid growth of the third factor: cultural change that inspires the broader public to end animal exploitation.

For a very long time, activists faced an uphill battle in convincing others to abandon animal products. Going vegan seemed hard, and many were unwilling to make the effort when eating animals was considered normal, natural and necessary. But when plant-based food is affordable and delicious, this is much harder to argue.

In social science there is something called the “push-pull” theory of immigration. The theory goes that, migration requires both a “push” factor (for example, you might be persecuted in your homeland), and a “pull” factor (you have the potential to not only enjoy greater safety, but more business opportunities in the new country).

This theory doesn’t just apply to immigration. It’s applicable in many other contexts, and veganism is one of them. In order to go vegan, people need a “push” factor – for example, they might feel terrible for killing and eating sentient beings without necessity and a “pull” factor – a vegan diet is less expensive and better for their health. Generally, just as with immigration, the greater the total number of “push” disincentives and “pull” incentives, the more likely it is for an individual to go vegan.

Our Vegan Future

Fortunately, there has never been a time in history when we have had more “pushes” and “pulls.” For the developed world, the choice is becoming increasingly clear. Animal agriculture destroys our environment, wastes our financial and natural resources, makes us unhealthy, whereas broad adoption of a vegan lifestyle could lead us in a much brighter direction.

Cultural change can happen slowly, but it can also happen suddenly. People with gender & sexual identities that varied from the norm suffered discrimination for centuries and suddenly became more accepted over the course of a single generation. Slavery existed since time immemorial and was abolished over the course of a century. Over and over, we see that change rarely happens in a smoothly sloping curve. There are fits and starts, but once an idea lands in the right environment, it can grow extremely quickly. How do we create a vegan world? The first step is realizing it’s inevitable.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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