UPDATE : 2023.9.17 Sun 23:40
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Vegan, By Choice, Not Coercion
  • By Seo Ji-min, reporter
  • 승인 2023.05.01 01:23
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▲ Vegan Diet (Source: Everyday Health)

As interest in responding to the climate crisis and animal welfare has increased, veganism has risen to the surface in earnest. According to the Hana Financial Management Research Institute's, 'The Rise of Veganism,' report on March 26, the number of vegans amongst the Korean populations is currently about 2 million, showing a steady increase. According to Euromonitor, a global market research company, the global vegan food market is expected to grow to about 7.4141 trillion won as of 2022, and to about 7.8649 trillion won by 2023. As the vegan market has grown rapidly recently, domestic industries are also scrambling to grow the vegan industry. Domestic vegan products can only be named vegan products through separate certification procedures. According to the Korea Institute of Health Certification, 4,589 products have recently been certified as vegan in Korea. Considering that there were 13 vegan- certified products in 2018, it can be seen that the domestic vegan industry is currently very active. Recently, cosmetics and household goods account for most of the vegan- certified products. As the vegan industry grows, the product line is also expanding.

As the number of consumers who value individual principles and beliefs increases, the naturally expanding vegan culture is rapidly spreading, not only to food, but also to the beauty and clothing industries. The food industry is speeding up the development of products such as 100% vegan, animal welfare products, and cultured meat. Pulmuone, for example, is showing strategic alliances with companies specializing in cultured meat with the goal of achieving 62% of sustainable products by 2025. The beauty industry is also following the trend of vegan culture. Hyundai Department Store and LG Household & Health Care are launching vegan shops and introducing vegan brands. Fashion companies are releasing products using eco- friendly or non- animal alternative materials one after another, and are also actively introducing resource cycles that reuse resources that have already been discarded, transforming them into clothes, such as extracting yarn from plastic bottles or utilizing waste materials. In particular, the global fashion group, 'KERING,' which has under its management Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga, has declared that it will completely stop using fur starting with FW (Fashion Week) seasonal products. As such, the distribution industry is using vegan as a new business growth engine in line with the consumption trend of young people who value, value consumption.

While veganism is considered a trend according to the social atmosphere, there are also many negative reactions to veganism. In 2019, a vegan group visited a fast food restaurant and staged a surprise demonstration, chanting slogans such as, "animal liberation," and, "violence, not food." Netizens at the time responded critically to the vegan group's actions, saying, "Vegans ask for respect, but our tastes are not respected?" and "They treat us like barbarians even though we just eat differently." In addition, in 2022, a daycare center teacher posted an Internet message titled, 'Parents Raising Kids on a Vegan Diet, That's Too Much,' which caused controversy. The teacher said, "Everyone has to eat the same meal in kindergarten, but only vegan children have to pack separate vegan lunch boxes, and parents are strongly criticized if they eat even one bite of general food." In response, there were many negative opinions among netizens, such as, "parents chose to become vegan, but they did not give their children a choice," and, "children are not property, which is obvious abuse." As such, some vegan's appearance of forcing their choices on others has backfired, with people feeling repulsed by veganism itself and mocking vegans.

People who choose veganism, do so for a variety of reasons, including animal protection and conservation of the global environment, as well as protecting their health, which should be respected. However, non- vegan people should also be understood that they do not want to contribute to violence, but only follow a life- long, familiar food culture. It is hoped that vegans and non- vegans can understand and respect each other, creating a better environment.

By Seo Ji-min, reporter  jmseo1215@naver.com

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