World Vegan Day 2019 Statistics: Plant-Based Diets On The Rise in the US

Friday is World Vegan Day, a day to celebrate all things 100 percent cruelty-free and plant-based.

World Vegan Day was established in November 1994 in celebration of the United Kingdom Vegan Society's 50th anniversary and as a way to kick off World Vegan Month. More recently, experts have noted that veganism is on the rise across the United States, with health and eco-conscious millennials as the driving force behind the upward trend.

Eggplants on display. Tim Graham/Getty Images

"For the past half-century, veganism has been a minority within a minority," wrote The Economist last December for its "The World in 2019" report. The analysis used data from a 2015 survey which found that just over three percent of Americans were vegetarian—and less than one percent were vegan. The Economist also predicted that 2019 would be the year that the lifestyle would find itself introduced not as an alternative, but a mainstream lifestyle, largely thanks to younger adults.

"Interest in a way of life in which people eschew not just meat and leather, but all animal products including eggs, wool and silk, is soaring, especially among millennials," the outlet noted. "Fully a quarter of 25-to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians."

In July, the Plant-Based Food Association (PBFA) working with the Good Food Institute issued a report highlighting some of the financial implications of the recent uptick in Americans leading a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

According to the report, U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have increased by 11 percent over the last year, making it $4.5 billion industry. The plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $800 million, the PBFA wrote.

"Plant-based foods are a growth engine, significantly outpacing overall grocery sales," Julie Emmett, PBFA's senior director of retail partnerships wrote in a company statement. She continued: "We are now at the tipping point with the rapid expansion of plant-based foods across the entire store, so it is critical for retailers to continue to respond to this demand by offering more variety and maximizing shelf space to further grow total store sales."

In recent years, celebrities and other high-profile public figures have come forward to share their vegan lifestyles. Famous vegans include Bill Clinton, Beyonce, Natalie Portman, Ariana Grande, Venus Williams, Mya and many others.

Actor and vegan Jessica Chastain once summed up the lifestyle, saying "I guess it's about trying to live a life where I'm not contributing to the cruelty in the world. ... While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here."