As the Australian bushfires serve as a constant reminder of the devastating realities of climate change, it is always uplifting to hear of the small but consequential ways society is changing for the better. The rapidly changing climate is beginning to transform veganism from a moral choice to an environmental necessity; prompting a surge of attention given to the issue. This change is reflected in the increasing normalisation of veganism both in and out of the public light.
Over the last few months, several events have helped to bring veganism into the spotlight:
Canadian Youtube influencer Samantha Ravandahl has amassed over 900,000 subscribers and 67 million video views in her 6 year career. Since her first video in 2013, Ravandahls primarily beauty focused content has shifted to promote more ethically and environmentally conscious consumption. This includes the promotion of vegan friendly, clean beauty brands such as Cover FX, Charlotte Tilbury and Lilah B and her ongoing series exploring sustainable period products. Ravandahl’s unobtrusive moralism is refreshing within a community which routinely promotes over consumption for the sake of personal profit. Taking this into account, we’re not surprised that sustainable eating is also a key concern of the influencer as she promoted her shift away from animal products in December 2019.
On a wider scale, Ravandahl’s efforts reflect a recent shift towards embracing ‘flexitarian’ and ‘veganish’ diets: those that still include occasional animal consumption but do not rely on them to meet nutritional macro-targets. This normalisation and ‘anything counts’ approach helps to debunk the militaristic perception of plant based eating.
Additionally, the vegan presence at the 2020 Golden Globes (including a fully vegan menu) is another positive reminder of our changing social climate.
The high point of this venture was Joaqin Phoenix’s impassioned speech on the ‘link between animal agriculture and climate change’ during his award slot. Phoenix’s choice to broadcast his message of love to millions of viewers is one of the best examples of vegan advocacy thus far in 2020. Certainly this is supported by the following twitter furore over his speech: amassing tens of thousands of responses of both praise and lively debate. Thus, the Vegan Golden globes prove the importance of advocacy in the world of celebrity – as a way of connecting more to a deeply necessary message.
The steps that celebrities take to normalise and celebrate veganism are important to the wider motives of the movement: to connect to the wider public in a way which is approachable. Despite their seeming untouchability, public personalities face massive scrutiny for associating themselves with veganism and seemingly aligning themselves with self important virtue signallers and orthorexic obsession ala Freelee the Banana Girl. Apart from public scrutiny, vegan celebrities risk losing the endorsement opportunities that pay the bills of most entertainers.
It takes courage to take a stand, no matter who you are, and it’s crucial to recognise and encourage those efforts.
Main photo: Samantha Ravandahl/Instagram