In Maine and across the globe, meat-free eating has penetrated mainstream culture and is no longer the lonely domain of hippies and radical thinkers. That became increasingly clear in 2014, a year when the chorus of celebrities and scientists adopting vegetarian or vegan diets and encouraging others to do the same grew louder.

Throughout the year, we were treated to stories of high-profile individuals choosing plant-based diets: Beyoncé and Jay-Z went vegan for 22 days at the end of 2013; Carrie Underwood ate vegetarian during her pregnancy; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Griff Whalen and Houston Texans running back Adrian Foster both were noted as vegans; President Bill Clinton’s heart health was reportedly much improved after he adopted a plant-based diet in 2011; and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey very publicly switched from eating vegetarian to vegan in November.

Reports continued to pile up about the environmental impact of eating meat, likely nudging others to reduce their meat consumption, as well.

In April, the New York Times wrote, “Demand for meat alternatives is growing, fueled by trends as varied as increased vegetarianism and concerns over the impact of industrial-scale animal husbandry on the environment.”

A number of vegetarian events and trends were covered by major news outlets this year. Here is a look at some of those that generated the most ink:

In March, Chipotle restaurants along the East Coast added tofu burritos (Chipotle calls them Sofritas) to their menus. The vegan burrito and taco filling is made with organic, GMO-free tofu. Throughout the year, other fast-food restaurants announced plans to add or test-market meat-free menu items.


The vegetarian media landscape expanded in April when popular digital-only Naked Food Magazine hit newsstands. The magazine covers frequently feature nude celebrities cloaked in produce. With a name that stands for “new American kind and enlightened diet,” the magazine focuses on plant-based food and evidence-based medicine.

In May, the archaeological community buzzed with news that the ancient Egyptians ate a largely vegetarian diet. Before this recent investigation led by researchers at the University of Lyon in France, many experts believed the ancient Egyptians consumed a lot of fish. Instead the study found the folks who built the pyramids dined on wheat, lentils, eggplants, pears, garlic and other plant foods. Later in the year, researchers from Germany discovered the Roman gladiators ate a similar diet, dominated by vegetarian food.

The incoming president of the American College of Cardiology raised the blood pressure of some colleagues when he penned an opinion piece detailing his switch to a plant-based style of eating and revealing that he encourages patients with heart disease to do the same.

In early September, in famously anti-vegetarian France, chef Alain Ducasse reopened his world-renowned restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris without foie gras, veal or steak tartare on the menu. A vegetarian-heavy, pescatarian menu replaced the old, meat-centric dishes.

As the new season of AMC’s popular zombie drama was about to hit the airwaves in October, members of the cast and crew of “The Walking Dead” revealed they were forced to go vegetarian after filming the TV series’ notoriously gory scenes.

In the middle of October, chef and Maine native Matthew Kenney cooked a sold-out vegan dinner for the New York City Wine & Food Festival. The dinner at the Park Lane Hotel followed his second sold-out vegan dinner for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in February.


Throughout the year, Israel’s fast-growing vegan community, pegged at 4 percent of the population, garnered significant attention. According to the Times of Israel, 15,000 people attended the day-long Vegan Fest in Tel Aviv in October. Observers say the country’s vegan trend is tied to religious practices of separating meat and milk, a regional cuisine with many traditional vegan dishes and the frequent comparisons made by vegan activists between Nazi concentration camps and modern factory farms.

According to the results of a study published in the journal Nutrition in October, overweight and obese adults randomly assigned to vegetarian diets lost more weight than study participants assigned to diets that included meat.

The German-based all-vegan grocery chain Veganz opened its ninth store in November. The chain’s founder later announced plans to franchise 60 more stores across Europe and the United States by 2020. Veganz is the largest in this tiny but rapidly growing segment of the grocery business.

In December, British think tank Chatham House echoed warnings from the United Nations and other experts when it released a report saying the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change is to reduce the global appetite for meat, since animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas pollution than any other industry.

A noteworthy trend in 2014 was the opening of vegetarian butcher shops. The first such shop, selling mock meats, opened in the Netherlands in 2010. The trend jumped the pond when the Herbivorous Butcher opened in Minneapolis in June. Now, the totally plant-based Butcher’s Son is planning to open in Berkeley this year.

The trend-spotters are predicting we’ll see vegetarian and particularly vegan foods continue to grow in popularity in 2015. I look forward to what the new year has in store.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.