Like Many Millennials, Jeremy Corbyn Is Dabbling In Veganism
The Debrief: Growing numbers of people are considering veganism and it turns out the Labour Leader is one of them
Conspiracy theories are flying around on the Internet that Jeremy Corbyn is actually a millennial. Ok, that’s not actually true, it is what you might call ‘fake news’ but there’s no denying that Corbyn’s apparent affinity with Millennials is going from strength to strength and it’s worth asking why.
Yesterday the Labour Party Leader attended an event hosted by Lush cosmetics and revealed that ‘some of his best friends are vegan’. Corbyn said that while he is vegetarian, he is not quite yet a vegan but is ‘going through the process’ of moving towards veganism and eating food which does not contain any animal products.
The Guardian reported that when asked if he would ever go fully vegan he said ‘I eat more and more vegan food and have more and more vegan friends, indeed there are quite a lot of vegan MPs actually – not a lot but there are some. I think what has improved so much is vegetarian and vegan food has got so much better in recent years.’
The Leader of the Opposition then reminisced ‘I got fed up of going on a plane in the 1980s and everyone would get their regulation rubber chicken and whatever with it. I would say “where is much lunch?” and they would say “yours is a special meal” like there is something badly wrong with you and they would bring this thing alone. It was usually pretty grim when it got there.’
Plane food still leaves a lot to be desired but Corbyn’s right, you can now buy tofu, seitan and soya milk on the high street. It does feel as though increasing numbers of people are turning to veganism for both health and ethical reasons. According to new figures from the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% over the last ten years and millennials are driving this trend with 42% of new vegans between 15 and 34. This must have something to do with documentaries like Cowspiracy and What The Health which discuss the environmental impact of farming animals as well as the health problems associated with eating too much meat and dairy. Concerns over animal welfare are also surely a factor.
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As lifestyle choices, veganism and vegetarianism were previously much-maligned. Opting to eschew animal products was dismissed as being overly worthy and reductive jokes were often made about vegans being fans of patchouli, free love and socialism. Of course, not all vegans favour socialist policies but the interesting thing about Corbyn is that he does represent a set of values and exhibit lifestyle behaviours which were once very niche.
Polls show that, in many ways, Millennials actually have more in common with the Baby Boomer generation (born in the 1940s to mid 60s) on social issues, in terms of how they see the world than with Generation X (born in the late 1960s to early 1980s, coming of age in the 90s), so it’s no surprise that this is a generation aligning itself politically as well as in terms of lifestyle choices with an ageing lefty like Corbyn.
The Labour Party have clarified that Corbyn is not, in fact, becoming vegan, he simply meant that he is eating more and more vegan food. Indeed, Corbyn has long been a vegetarian. A BBC political profile of The Labour leader, written in 2016, stated that he has eaten a vegetarian diet for most of his adult life after working on a pig farm in his twenties. Either way, if he did ever take the plunge and go vegan for good, it would only serve to reinforce his millennial friendly, environment-friendly and totally relatable brand.
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