When Americans think of Ireland, images of Guinness beer, corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, and lucky charms usually comes to mind. Animal-free does not typically spring to mind as St. Patrick's Day and overseas vacations come about. As Vegan in Ireland put it, "Only two decades ago, it seemed like there wasn’t much hope, but the times are changing! It seems that Ireland now has the “vegetarian thing” completely down, and is slowly coming to grips with the concept of veganism."
In 2019, Vitabiotics found that in a survey of 200 people, 37% were willing to go vegan full-time and 7 out of 10 would consider incorporating more plant-based food into their diet. These results are supported by statistics released by Deliveroo, a food delivery service. Vegan and healthy orders increased by 119% in the summer of 2018 compared to the year prior. Just Eat, another food delivery service, found similar numbers as their veggie and vegan Irish orders increased by 25% from the start of the year.
Former Irish President, Mary Robinson, has been a long-time supporter of a plant-based diet not only to support a healthy lifestyle but also as a means to fight climate change. In 2018, Robinson addressed the One Young World summit. "I said (in 2016) we all have to do more. We have to be more energy-efficient, we have to recycle, we must think about what we eat, we need to eat less meat, maybe become vegetarian or even vegan....." Robinson continued to remark that those in privileged countries have a responsibility to embrace an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, from diet to daily habits. (Her remarks mirror former President Barack Obama. Check out his stance HERE.)
While Robinson commented that her environmentally-friendly remarks were not well received by local authorities in 2016, the country has begun to embrace a more animal-free lifestyle. Guinness used to traditionally brew its beer using isinglass (fish bladders), which helped remove the yeast from the stout. Over the course of 4 years, Guinness worked to develop a new animal-free filtration system. According to Stephen Kilcullen, brew master and head of quality for Guinness, the stout would have been vegan a decade ago, but the technology did not exist to properly filter the brew. "Everything we tried lost that ruby color you see in the bottom of the glass that shows it's clear. We wouldn't compromise on quality so we had to wait for the technology." In 2018, Guinness announced that all of it's beers, in draft, bottle, and can form, are now animal-free.
The Vegan Society of Ireland, formed in 2009, is a large proponent of an animal-free lifestyle, hosting educational events, providing resources, and fostering a growing community. They act to promote a societal change, citing healthy living, animal rights, and climate change as motivators. Their social media group is currently just shy of 6k members, growing at about 200 members a month.
As you prepare for your St. Patrick's Day feast, open a cold Guinness and consider one of these vegan Irish recipes for your table!
Éire go Brách!
Have a wonderful, safe St. Patrick's Day!
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