For years vegans were ridiculed for their plant-based lifestyle – guilty of stereotyping veganism to lettuce, kale and all things green. However, this is history. 

The growth in vegan culture on social media over the last few years has been extensive. With the rise in plant-based ‘meat’ substitutes and recipes promoted by influencers, veganism is increasingly common. But what does it mean to be vegan online today, and how is it changing the way we view it?

Instagram told me veganism is more than your diet!

That’s right, veganism is much more than a plant-based diet. When we think about it, it’s easy for our minds to head straight to restriction in what we can eat. Many of us share the gut-wrenching feeling when a video of baby pigs in tiny spaces, ready for meat consumption comes up on our feed.

Vegan New-Yorker social media influencer Jasmine Avery promotes her plant-based lifestyle on Instagram. For the past five years on her vegan journey, she has shared vegan tips, food reviews and recipes to her 42k followers. We asked her what veganism means for her, beyond what goes on in the kitchen. 

Jasmine, 31, said: “Veganism to me means not harming any living being on this planet, not giving into the animal agriculture, the impression, understanding your body, learning the power of plants and finding a way to live as compassionately as possible. 

“It’s just the most amazing lifestyle to me, and it means the true definition of leaving the world better than you found it”.

We, as consumers at home are heavily influenced by social media. Harry Spears, president of the Vegan society at the University of Sheffield talks of the importance of doing your research, and the accessibility to vegan education online.

Harry, 21, said: “By cutting out the harm to animals that we don’t even realise happens until you research it, is super important, you would seriously be surprised by the harm done even, by non-meat, but dairy products, also.

“My Instagram is now flooded with vegan content, videos reassuring me of why I went vegan in the first place, activist’s account pages and more – it’s a huge community of people wanting to better the world.”

What’s new in the online vegan world?

The digital vegan community is huge nowadays. We know you can veganise your meals with diary free cream, cheese and meat substitutes, but how do influencers keep the flame a-light, and their followers interested?

Jasmine said: “I mean my whole process on @diaryofamadblackvegan is about being myself, showing up on these internet streets showing what it’s like as a vegan woman – the ins and outs, the day to day, the funny things that happen all in between. 

I make a lot of Instagram reels from ‘TikTok’, for example just yesterday I did Vegan period relief hacks for all my ladies, stuff like that you can’t find in a cookbook, am I right?!

It’s really all about me thinking about things that I know will be relatable, that I know would help people and packaging it in a humorous, funny, entertaining way.”

With the vegan world constantly innovating, we asked social media influencer and food critic Mehar Chauhan, @sznyourmunch, what her experience is on helping to shape vegan thinking. 

Mehar, 21, said: “Of course, recently a lot of opinions have changed, especially in men, that for me is what’s new in veganism online. These alpha males be enjoying these chickpea curries!

I have loads of people messaging me on Instagram saying they want to cut down on their meat intake, asking if I have ideas or recommendations of food they can try, or recipes they can cook. For me posting sped up videos of me cooking, buying product and enjoying food keeps my followers entertained!”. 

#Veganism around the world

As vegan content becomes increasingly popular on our screens, the opportuning to explore the cuisine in a range of cultures is easy. 

Whether you’re from Eastern Europe or Asia, vegan food is so simple to experiment with after we’ve consumed content on social media. Recipe videos, what essential spices to use – you name it, it’s all on social media.

Jasmine said: “I’m Caribbean so I do lots of curry, lots of spices around those, I love Indian cuisine, there’s actually a lot of overlap. I do a lot of masalas, all those spice blends. I love using native plants, natural herbs to create my own seasoning all these different things.

But oh man I love New York, living here, we got vegan Asian 100% restaurants, Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, any culture – it’s amazing! 

There’re so many vegans that are here advocating for different stuff. All of which I love posting reviews on, re-creating things I have eaten and showing my fellow vegan, and non-vegan followers all the delicious foods that they can eat.”

Any foodie will tell you, having a good mix of spices is essential for a tasty dish. 

Food critic Mehar talks of India’s cuisine, and how simple it is to veganise these meals. She said: “My parents are Indian vegetarian, so I was raised on Indian food. There is a lot of food out there that I have been able to taste. I love the expansion of cultural food in the vegan community now, it used to be very plain I’ll say.

Personally, I live off the ‘Dunns River’ all-purpose seasoning, you can add that to everything and anything and it makes it all so much better. Being from India I think having a good range is key, cumin, turmeric, saffron and chilli flakes of course, work so well with many of my vegan dishes!”

Reducing #VeganStigma

Out with the old, and in with the new – has social media helped celebrate veganism and abolish the myth that vegans only eat greens? 

Yes! We asked our social media influencers their thoughts:

Jasmine: “I think the older you get in the vegan game, the people who hate of veganism, they on the wrong side of history, so it’s like haha joke is on you! I’m living my best vegan life, I love it!

Social media for me gives me such good spirit, seeing new recipe’s, influencers, cultures all circling around vegan food is amazing, the conversation alone is so big, and people don’t frown on veganism anymore – I give Instagram some credit for that for sure!”

Mehar: “When I review food, post on my page, I get such positive feedback! People love seeing me go to India and eat the vegan cuisine there, I think by seeing this online it has one-hundred-percent changed the way people view veganism, yes for sure. 

How would anyone know how delicious vegan food was if they weren’t a vegan themselves, having not seen anything online – it’s great.” 

Wait, That’s Vegan?! 

Variety in plant-based cooking has seen huge expansion over the years. Now, on our social media feeds we see dishes that look delicious

Mehar: “My signature dish for me, it would be the Moroccan jackfruit tagine, with Turkish rice. That meal is spectacular. It’s quite straight forward, you just need to get the right spices for it. The Turkish rice with it – god that is good, you just fry vermicelli, add some salt, rice and stock cube and make sure the rice is washed – please!”

“If its tasty and full of flavour that’s all that matters. I love the challenge of someone who doesn’t like vegan food, a lot of my friends are such big meat eaters, when I make recipes that they enjoy, that makes me quite satisfied, because it’s like, they’ve enjoyed a vegan meal – you’re having a good time.”

Jasmine: “My vegan crab cakes for sure. I use, half a palm, that’s gonna give you that perfect texture of crab meat, season that baby, put the seaweed in your food. That’s gonna give you the fishy taste honey. Lots of old bay seasoning, vegan mayo, onion and garlic powder, coat your patties with breadcrumbs and fry in some oil – boom! So good.” 

Harry: “I love crispy chilli tofu with jambalaya, a recipe I got from ‘BOSH TV’. The mix of sweet chilli, sriracha, soy and sesame are the main flavours, with tofu and some spring onions. So good.

‘Farm to Fridge’ is also a really good short video explaining the problems that occur within animal agriculture, it’s not a nice watch mind. BOSH is really good for vegan recipes, and they have ‘speedy BOSH’ for ease.”

It’s clear that by consuming these products online, people’s attitudes are changing. Where we used to see vegan through a green-only lens, it is now colourful, exciting, evolving and flavourful!