Growing numbers of people are going vegan, according to new figures.
One in five people aged between 16 or 24 now identifies themselves as vegetarian or vegan – avoiding any animal-derived foods – according to the animal protection group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The organisation says that orders for its vegan starter kits have surged, from 14,000 in 2013 to 28,300 in 2014 and 35,000 last year.
PETA director Mimi Bekhechi said: “Vegans are, on average, slimmer, and have lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower rates of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes than their meat-eating counterparts.
“They are also about 40 per cent less likely to get cancer. A plant-based diet can even prevent and, in some cases, reverse heart disease – the leading cause of premature death among men in the UK.
“Plant-based eating is kinder to the environment, too. It takes more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater but only 300 gallons for a vegan.”
A scheme encouraging people to “Go Vegan in the New Year” has also snowballed in the last two years, with the pledge being taken by 1,500 people in 2014 but more than 6,000 this year.
And according to Google Trends, more people than ever are Googling “vegan”.
“Tesco recently introduced its own-brand almond milks – surely a sign of a growing market,” added Mimi.
“In fact, one in five households choose non-dairy milk”.Celebrities including singer Ellie Goulding and boxer David Haye are among those advocating following a vegan diet, but how easy is it for us mere mortals?
Chains like Pizza Express and Wetherspoons now offer vegan options, but there are also plenty of independent vegan-friendly eateries in Leeds.
Here are PETA’s top picks:
Humpit in the Corn Exchange serves up tasty falafel with an assortment of toppings, such as tahini, salsa, pine nuts and various tasty veggies. For reasonably priced, fast and filling falafel, this is the place to go.
Roots and Fruits in the Grand Arcade is a versatile restaurant whose scrambled tofu and vegan-sausage breakfast shouldn’t be missed.
Global Tribe Cafe on Swan Street is a cheerful veggie spot for colourful meat-free cuisine, including super-healthy burgers, quinoa salad and raw cheesecake.
Hansas on North Street is an award-winning vegetarian Indian restaurant with vegan options, including wickedly spicy curries, tempting sides and creamy desserts.
The Grub & Grog Shop, based at Northern Monk Refectory in Marshalls Mill, offers comforting treats, such as homemade crumpets, braised onion and leek dumplings, and a malt-roasted squash risotto, all of which can be washed down with a selection of speciality ales.
And if you fancy a takeaway, Grove Cafe on Cardigan Road in Burley delivers vegan pizzas topped with dairy-free cheese, roasted tofu and meat-free chicken pieces straight to your door, as well as vegan garlic bread.