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Hipsters: The rise of the vegan foot soldier


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Veganism – a dietary movement once associated with political activists and animal rights supporters – has quickly grown into a lifestyle choice lived full-time by an estimated 150,000 people in the UK.

But why? What has caused this dramatic growth?

The answer it could be argued lies within the ranks of the vegan foot soldiers, the runners of the vegan army. The infamous hipster.

The contemporary hipster subculture first appeared in the mid 1990s but didn’t become an ironically mainstream term until the 2010s and, while not often used by members of the subculture themselves, is used regularly as a term to refer to those who the mainstream regard as pretentious and overly trendy; a description which, one could argue, is perfect for the front runners of the postmodern vegan movement.

Go to any vegan restaurant, in any city of the UK, and while you may be at first greeted by the sweet aromas of falafel and sweet potato you will soon lay your eyes on a more common spectacle: oversized t-shirts, thick-framed glasses, skinny jeans, Doctor Martens and of course the baggy denim jacket, the staple outfit of any male hipster.

Happily sitting at a small wooden table sipping Chai tea and discussing university safe spaces, the hipster is a common feature of any vegan cafe.

The reason for this is not because veganism is going to save us all from an apocalyptic humanity-destroying scenario, but because veganism is the latest trend, and trendy is the hipsters middle name.

With celebrities like Beyonce and Oscar-winning film director James Cameron jumping on the ‘vegan for January’ bandwagon, the subconscious of the UKs hipsters screams with the desire to be part of our latest cultural trend.

Ask any hipster why they’re becoming vegan and the answer will, nine times out of ten, be the same, “it’s just better for the planet”, “cattle farming is causing global drought”, “we need to put more thought into our children’s futures” so on and so forth.

Do they all really believe that this is the case? Call me a cynic but I’m going to say no.

This is however, ideal for spreading the message of the vegan cause.  Get as many people on the ground all singing from the same hymn sheet and in not much time at all you have a movement capable of converting even the most dedicated of carnivores.

The hipster is a key piece in the puzzle that is veganism, foot soldiers against a capitalist global meat market.

Though not all of us can give up meat just yet.

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