In years to come, we may well look back and see that 2019 was the year the vegan movement went mainstream. Long gone are the days when vegans were a fringe group, made up of stereotyped skinny, hemp-wearing hippies. With more than 57 million #vegan posts on Instagram right now, it’s safe to say that plant-based living is more popular than ever before. Here’s a breakdown of what went right.

We ate more fast food
The American test launch of ‘100% plant based’ chicken by KFC proved a massive success: selling out in less than five hours and producing round the block waiting lines. This ‘Kentucky fried Miracle’ follows the testing of a plant based burger patty in the UK in June of this year. Whilst these options seem a world away, they are indicative of the growing worldwide demand for vegan friendly options.

More locally, animal lovers and chip lovers rejoiced at the expansion of Melbourne based chain ‘Lord of the Fries’ to Newtown – the vegan mecca of Sydney. The 100% vegan chain offers a vegan alternative to animal based fast foods (including world ending aioli) and is open late to compete with greasy offerings for the bar crawl crowds on weekends.

The World ate less dairy
On the 19th of November, the groundbreaking ‘dismantle dairy’ campaign was launched in the UK and online across the globe. Dismantle dairy’s videos revealed the systematic mistreatment of dairy cows in farms through over 18 months of covert operations. Surge media’s investigation tugs at the heartstrings of its viewers and is vocally supported by media giant Earthling Ed, whose speech coincidentally turned me off dairy myself. This seems to come at the right time, as dairy sales have plummeted over 1 billion dollars since 2017.

We were on Netflix¹
Gamechangers, baby! Or did you think we forgot? This two hour documentary, initially released in Germany in September, documents the benefits of plant based eating for health and physical performance. Reaching millions on Netflix worldwide, Gamechangers was the vegan event of the year: encouraging the public to think critically about pseudoscience regarding animal products. The ‘informative and eye opening’ documentary interrogates elite athletes, nutritional scientists and celebrities through the lens of James Wilks, a special forces trainer on a mission to find the optimal human diet. Judging from the title, you can guess what they found.

We ate our protein
As more options became available, we were armed with the facts when asked the inevitable ‘where do you get your protein?’ (usually by someone who is not, in fact, interested in knowing). In July, the Huffington post asked nutritionists to compare popular vegan alternatives such as the beyond and impossible burgers to the traditional beef. What they found was astonishing: that the plant based patties had up to 4 more grams of protein per 100 grams whilst maintaining similar fat content.

Billie Eilish Vegan²
Symbolic of broadening societal acceptance of veganism, 17 year old singer Billie Eilish openly disparaged meat eaters, stating that the public was ‘LITERALLY EATING creatures that are being fully tortured just for your pleasure’.

This follows the sucess of Eilish’s 2019 album, ‘When we all fall asleep, where do we go?’, including chart topping single ‘bad guy’. The singer’s influence is massive, racking up an impressive 45 million young followers on instagram. Thus, her influence on todays culture – and, moreover, the culture of tomorrow- cannot be ignored. Eilish’s animal rights advocacy has helped to make veganism more normalised and trendy to her Gen Z fans.

School Strikes
2019 introduced us to firecracker Greta Thumberg at full force as she led the youth march movements against climate change and was nominated for a Nobel prize. Thumberg praises veganism’s reduction of ecological harm and adopted the lifestyle to reduce her own carbon footprint.

Australians supported Greta in hoards, with over 1 million gathering in Sydney’s Domain in September to protest our government’s own inaction. These protests praised the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, providing vegan snacks at rallies in March.

Finally, Joaquin Phoenix continued to be an absolute legend
The star of 2019’s ‘Joker’, and player of the titular psychopath, Joaquin Phoenix’s immense empathy may surprise those who only see the star on-screen.

A prominent activist for several years, in 2019 the actor continued his animal advocacy – even under the pressure and scrutiny of the stardom accompanying his role. Importantly, Phoenix makes the list because of how he uses his platform to promote his vegan lifestyle; notably in an interview with brut, on billboards throughout the USA and leading a funeral procession on world animal rights day. He earns the title of the year’s favourite vegan.


1. The Game Changers

2. Billie Eilish Condems Meat Industry, Live Kindly, July 15, 2019

2. The Best 50 Albums of 2019, No 3: Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The Guardian, December 18, 2019


Photo Billie Eilish/Instagram

About the Author


Lucy Bailey is 18 years old and has been vegan for 9 months. Lucy is an award winning public speaker and passionate writer on animal issues. For her vegan activism, Lucy has been awarded the Sydney University Leadership Award and a Sydney Scholars Award in 2019.

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