How Many Vegans Are There In Canada
Despite the fact that meat has traditionally been a large element of the Canadian diet, Canadians are becoming more aware of their meat intake and diet options. Canadian females aged 55 and over were the most likely demographic to avoid beef and other red meats in their diet.
Veganism is also having a visible impact on the dairy industry. Along with other factors, veganism in Canada could be a reason for the decline of milk consumption in the country. Meat and dairy substitutes are popular replacements for consumers looking for the same tastes, flavours and nutritional content.
What Is A Vegan?
Veganism is not the same as vegetarianism. Vegans avoid all animal-based products such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey. Veganism is strongly associated with animal rights activism. People who follow a vegan diet do so because they believe animals should not be used in the production of products like clothing or food.
According to dietitian Kate Comeau, one of the many health benefits of a vegan diet is the ability to improve digestion and weight loss. “Because fruits and vegetables are higher in fibre, it’s easier to break the food down to digest it, therefore keeping us fuller longer,” Comeau says.
Vegans do not eat any animal products. Instead, they have a plant-based diet that involves the consumption of legumes, whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts, as well as limited amounts of grains and rice.
Some notable plant-based protein sources include lentils, soy, pea, chickpeas, green peas, hemp seeds, beans, seeds, mushrooms, and nuts. Canada is a relatively vegan-friendly country when compared to other parts of the world. As of 2016, Canada is ranked 15th for veganism as a whole.
Canada's vegan population is also fairly diverse. According to Statistics Canada, the largest amount of Canadians identifying as vegans is found in Ontario, while British Columbia ranks fourth and Alberta comes in fifth.
A vegan diet excludes all products made up of an animal-based source. Although there are many types of vegans, the most common is one who doesn't consume dairy products or foods containing the word “cheese” in their products. It should be noted that those who would not know how to eat a vegan diet, should use the term vegetarian instead.
The difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is that vegetarians do not eat any type of meat, poultry, or seafood. However, some of them will eat egg and dairy products, but will usually refrain from eating red meat. There are four major non-meat food groups that require consideration when determining your diet.
These are Vegetables, Eggs, Wheat products, Seafood, and Dairy. If you can’t incorporate vegetables into your diet, the best option is to get a plant-based formula with fortified vegetables or fruits and make up for it with extra plant-based fat, like olive oil or avocados.
Most major grocery chains now have a vast selection of vegetable-based options, including tofu, veggie burgers, kale chips, and frozen vegetables. Some veggie products can be made more ethical and environmentally friendly.
Vegans avoid all animal and animal-derived goods, including dairy, eggs, and honey, in the same way, that vegetarians avoid meat, poultry, game, and fish. Gelatin and animal rennet is also not used by vegans since they are by-products of animal slaughter.
There are a variety of reasons why people choose to follow a vegan diet. Some do so for religious reasons, while others do so for health reasons, with many thinking the vegetarian diet to be a healthy alternative.
People have also turned into vegetarians or vegans because of concerns about animal welfare, the impact of animal agriculture, and environmental issues. Over the last few years, the increasing adoption of meat-free diets has raised awareness of the issues surrounding animal agriculture, thus encouraging many people to rethink their eating choices.
Advantages Of Being A Vegan
Compared to being a vegetarian, becoming a vegan offers some of the following benefits:
- Natural and efficient production,
- Several more foods you can eat,
- Improvement of health,
- Elimination of cruelty and harm to animals,
- Extensive savings in the cost of food, and
- Improving the environment.
Veganism is more than a popular trend in Canada. Veganism can have a significant impact on health. Healthy living has become a priority for many people. The United States Department of Agriculture found that the consumption of meat in the US has been in decline for more than a decade.
Becoming vegan in Canada can help Canadians stay healthy by decreasing their meat and dairy intake. It is also a financially beneficial decision. Some research suggests that if the average American were to make the switch to veganism, it could save them approximately $1000 a year.
For many, the choice to become a vegan is primarily based on animal rights. The Quebecois dairy farmers that have successfully co-opted the dairy industry in recent years are all for animal rights. The same cannot be said for the farmers in California that have been flooded with lawsuits for their behaviour towards their cows.
Canada has no cow protection laws to defend the dairy industry from their dairy cows. This is a notable advantage for the vegan in Canada. The ability to successfully navigate the Canadian immigration process can be an added advantage for vegan immigrants.
Despite having their counterparts around the globe, it is still difficult for people that practice animal rights to immigrate to the United States or to several European countries.
How Many Vegans Are There In Canada?
Statistics Canada conducted a survey on trends in dietary and nutrition consumption of Canadians in the mid-2010s, specifically focusing on trends in meat consumption and preference.
Of the 5,770 Canadians polled in 2017, 1,375 reported not eating meat, 3,678 reported eating meats a couple of times per week, and 6,675 reported eating meat many times per week. Most vegans reported eating a vegetarian diet, and others followed a vegan diet without eating dairy or eggs.
According to a recent study on vegans, the number of vegans in Canada is steadily rising, most notably in the city of Toronto, the second-largest metropolitan area in Canada. There, vegans have also gotten a reputation for being healthy, with many leading long and healthy lives.
Some of the large public areas of Toronto are named in honour of prominent vegans, including Dalhousie Street, named after Canadian vegans, Dr. J.J. Stewart and Dr. Margaret Hyslop-Stewart.
Named after French Canadian-born, Norwegian philosopher and scientist, John Pascal Rossier, University of Toronto, McMaster University and Ryerson University also have “vegan” on their campuses, where they are known as Vegans of McMaster, Vegans of Ryerson, and Vegans of UVic respectively.
The vegan movement has been brewing for years, but the movement is most prominent in Ontario and Quebec. According to a survey conducted in 2012, 1 in 5 Canadians were open to the idea of being a vegetarian and 1 in 3 was open to the idea of being a vegan.
Out of the many ethnic groups, however, it was Chinese Canadians who were the most likely to practice vegetarianism, followed by the Aboriginal community. One interesting statistic that stands out is that women are more likely to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet than men.
An Overview Of The Vegan Lifestyle In Canada
As Canada continues to advance with their vegan agenda, opportunities for additional plant-based restaurants are available in all major cities, including Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto. Although the rate of veganism is on the rise, Canadians have mixed opinions about how many people actually opt for the vegan lifestyle.
Many cite the difficulties of being vegan in a meat-heavy culture. People that live in urban areas that are accustomed to a variety of different diet options and cuisines may be confused as to what the best diet is.
An article in Canada’s National Post outlines some of the common misconceptions that some people have about vegans. A common misconception is that vegans don’t eat dessert.
In many ways, veganism is becoming more acceptable in Canada. In many cities, there are vegan restaurants to choose from, while larger chains and franchises are also expanding their vegan offerings to meet the demand.
In June of 2017, Cara Operations, the company behind iconic chains like Swiss Chalet and Harvey's, also announced that it would be selling both veggie burgers and poutine to meet consumer demand.
A breakdown of these numbers shows that younger Canadians are more likely to follow a vegan diet than older consumers. While the vegan demographic tends to be younger, the majority of Canadians fall into the meat-eater demographic, with men (54 percent) and women (53 percent) standing in the middle of the spectrum.
Factors Influencing The Rise In Veganism In Canada
Some Canadian studies have found that the rise in veganism is being driven by the desire to become and remain healthy and to lower their carbon footprint. Veganism has also become the new eating plan of choice, especially among Millennials and those in Gen Z. More Canadians are choosing to cut out the use of animal products, often by cutting out meat and dairy products in their diet.
Some vegan foods, such as tofu, do not require the use of animal-based products; and vegan nutrition advice can be obtained online. However, meatless products can be harder to find than their counterparts, depending on a person’s geographical location, dietary preference and grocery stores.
The demand for animal-free food has boosted the growth of vegan food sales, according to Statistics Canada. With a number of grocery and restaurant chains, vegan options are available to consumers all over Canada.
Even grocery stores, such as Loblaws, have introduced vegan foods into the stores, following the demands of their shoppers. Numerous companies are also starting to focus more on vegans and their needs, especially those of children.
One factor that influences the rise of veganism in Canada is Canadian Health. As mentioned earlier, the overall health status of Canadians is declining. A major cause of the decline in health is the increase in fat consumption, as well as a decline in physical activity.
More people in Canada are becoming obese while adopting a diet high in carbohydrates and less in protein. Red meat, the only source of protein that most Canadians eat, is mainly responsible for these statistics.
Which Demographics Are More Likely To Be Vegan?
8 percent of Canadians aged 5 and over are identified as vegans. 11 percent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 consider themselves vegan. Among the 60+ age group, it is important to note that just 20 percent are vegan. Beyond the positive contribution of those who are Vegan, there are positive statistics for those who don't eat meat.
“The popularity of veganism is clearly evident by the annual increase in the number of Canadians who identify as vegetarians or vegans”. From the 2017-2018 MyPlate Canada Report 42 percent of Canadians report eating less meat.
While Canadians are becoming more conscious of their diet, it is interesting to see how veganism has impacted the dairy industry, it's important to see how Veganism is different across demographic groups. Aside from age, Canada's vegan population is slightly older and more educated than other demographic groups in the country.
Canada has a large immigrant population and especially the younger generations are often living their immigrant lifestyle. The millennial generation has a higher prevalence of Veganism than other demographic groups.
This has caused the concern that with a large population of immigrants and those with different cultural backgrounds, Veganism in Canada may not be representative of the country as a whole.
Women are more likely to have an “avoid” attitude towards meat, and they're also more likely to consider their diet choices a healthy choice. In the survey, 58% of Canadian men indicated they are “avoiding” meat, but among those who have left meat off their plates, they are more likely to have recently switched to vegan than to have done so at some point in the past.
Women are also more likely to be aware of the nutritional value of plant-based diets. Many Canadians report that their plant-based diet makes them feel healthier. When considering alternatives to animal products, 59% of Canadians said that they were more likely to switch to a plant-based diet if it would make them feel healthier.
According to research done by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), there are more than one million vegans in Canada. Of those, only 300,000 could be considered hardcore vegans, meaning that they have adopted a vegan diet for at least six months. That’s still an astonishing number, though it pales in comparison to the 320,000 Canadians who followed a vegan diet in 2012.
But unlike 2015, numbers are way up since 2011, when the CSI launched its “Meatless Monday” campaign. The CSI website suggests that people trying to adopt a plant-based diet should try going for a meat-free day once a week.
How Many Meat Substitutes Are There In Canada?
An increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options are available in the Canadian grocery store. Common meat substitutes include veggie burgers, soy burgers, fake chicken, beef and seafood (such as vegan crab, chicken and shrimp). One-third of respondents believe that meat substitutes are becoming more common in Canadian food stores.
Soy products are the most popular vegan substitute for meat products, which is reflected in the higher ranking of soy products in the poll. Canadian vegans are also more open to vegan meats than non-vegans.
Vegetarian and vegan products are popular among vegan and vegetarian consumers, and non-vegans are open to experimenting with products that are available to them.
Canada actually has more than 60 varieties of meatless meat products. There are more than 3,500 plant-based burger substitutes available for purchase across the country, which has an estimated reach of one-third of Canadians.
According to Food & Wine, the North American Vegetarian Association reported that “More than half of Canadians are not vegetarian, but lean towards some form of a plant-based diet.” And that, as Food & Wine suggests, could also be because of the meat-free alternatives available to people who do eat meat.
Canadians don’t completely stray away from red meat, either. The report from Food & Wine also mentions that “In Quebec, the vegetarian majority is covered by restaurants, cafeterias, and quick-service diners, as well as at grocery chains like Lactose-Free.
According to data gathered from Statistics Canada, Canada produces about 2.5 million tonnes of plant-based protein a year. That is about one-third of the animal-based protein production in Canada. Globally, plant-based foods comprise a $2 trillion market and it continues to expand at a rapid pace.
That compares to the $1.7 trillion that the market for meat-based products in 2017 is expected to be. Canadians are becoming more aware of meat consumption and there are many plant-based meat alternatives that have caught the public’s eye.
These include products that utilize peas, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and other ingredients. These meat alternatives are found in everything from breakfast cereal to peanut butter.
What are other trends influencing the Vegan community in Canada?
Although there is some evidence that Canadian society is becoming more conscious about food and dietary choices, there are other cultural and social factors affecting the rise of veganism in Canada. Canadian consumers have been shown to have an increased interest in animal welfare and have displayed a willingness to pay higher prices for ethical products.
As well, younger people are also adopting a vegan lifestyle in increasing numbers. In 2014, the Vegan Society of Canada reported that young adults aged 18 to 34 were the most likely age group to adopt a vegan lifestyle. What are some Vegans Doing to Promote Veganism in Canada?
Vegans are adopting plant-based foods with confidence. A positive shift in the vegan population is reflected by the success of vegan cookbooks and author, Toni Halliday’s bestseller Veganomicon, which became a bestseller for Harper Collins.
This is leading the vegan community to create their own recipes and cookbooks. Additionally, Canada’s largest store-front vegan food chain, Veggies Cafe, which originated in Montreal, has opened 14 locations across Canada. That is nearly double the number of Veggies Cafe restaurants in the U.S.
Government policies to promote a healthy vegan diet continue to support plant-based eating. For the past 10 years, the Department of Agriculture has committed millions of dollars to promote the health benefits of a vegan diet.
The Best Cities In Canada To Be Vegan
Though veganism is more popular in Canada than ever before, it's still a niche market, and many Canadians are unaware of just how many vegans are in their country.
According to The Daily Meal's study, the best cities for vegans in Canada are the cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Halifax. The U.S. was one of only three countries that could not be ranked.
With Canada’s history as a colonial power, many people associate the country with its meat-heavy diet and great meat-eaters. This idea is constantly changing and evolving as more and more people make the lifestyle choice to live healthy, cruelty-free lifestyles.
Currently, not all of Canada is vegan, but there are several cities on the East Coast with a good portion of the population embracing a vegan lifestyle. New York is considered one of the best cities in the world to be vegan. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of the country is free of vegan options.
Halifax, Moncton, Toronto and Montreal are all reasonably close to each other, have a large population of vegans, and are great cities to explore for your next vegan adventure.
When looking for vegan food, Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a top pick for Canadians. Halifax was included on the list of the top 10 vegan cities in the world for 2019. Another Canadian city included on the list of the best vegan cities is Toronto, where vegan restaurants are leading the way with meat-free options.
Food service providers that have vegan options are doing their part to cater to this growing market. The price of plant-based food is still on the rise. However, consumers are paying closer attention to the pricing on meat alternatives, and in turn, what they spend on animal products.
Meat-based restaurants are being forced to up their game when it comes to their menu offerings. Companies that focus on vegan-friendly fare are benefiting as more consumers turn to plant-based.
The effects of various food products and the culture of consumption can have a strong effect on the overall health of Canadians. Pending further research, the increasing popularity of plant-based foods could be linked to a range of benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. While plant-based diets are not for everyone, they certainly offer their own set of health benefits.
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