As the number of plant-based options expands around the world, there is one country that leads the way in people choosing to follow a plant-based diet, and companies such as Starbucks are responding by testing their new vegan products there. That country is Canada. While the UK is often seen as the country that has led the vegan movement, Canada is catching up fast, with more and more young people adopting the lifestyle in the effort to combat climate change.

A new study bolsters this trend: Recent Google data shows a 113 percent spike in plant-based and vegan-related searches in Canada since 2016. Vegan food, diet, lifestyle, and celebrity searches are up 25.73 percent in the last year alone.

Canadian Youth: Eating Green to Go Green

In an article from Canada's National Observer, 17-year-old Canadian Mia Kelly was compelled to shift her diet to a plant-based approach following her participation in the Ottowa Climate Strike this past fall. Kelly explained her motivation: "After [the strike], climate change was really on my mind a lot, and I realized that switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet was the biggest thing I could do as an individual."

The National Observer also interviewed Nelson Osar-Small, 17 years old, who explained that the Gen-Z demographic feels increasingly compelled to join the plant-based movement, saying, "Honestly it's like a trend now to become vegan or vegetarian. A lot of my friends are taking a bigger interest in climate change and they know that eating less meat will help."

Beyond anecdotal evidence, Google Trends' numbers on plant-based eating in Canada reveal a sharp uptick in the interest of the plant-based or vegan lifestyle in the past 12 months. In that timeframe, searches for the term 'plant-based diet' have increased by nearly 40 percent across Canada, spiking with an increase of 79 percent in October of 2019. The provinces that ranked the highest in interest in a vegan diet are: Prince Edward's Island, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, which all had a score of at least 88 or higher.

Getty Images

Canadians are Choose to Forego Meat for the Sake of Climate Change 

According to a report published by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 100 scientists in 52 countries determined that emissions from the agriculture industry, which produces livestock, fish, poultry and crops (of which the largest share goes to feeding livestock, fish and poultry) will derail the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The purpose of those goals is to keep the rising global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius this century and to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

If we all limit our meat intake, it would decrease the demand for livestock, fish and poultry worldwide and, in turn, reduce the production and the harmful activity of the agricultural industry. With more and more restaurants offering plant-based, meatless or vegan options, becoming a "sustainable" eater is increasingly convenient for those in Canada and around the world. Wendy's has just announced they're launching a new plant-based burger called "The Plantiful" in Canada, to join the ranks of companies such as Starbucks, Beyond Meat and Dunkin Donuts who are also courting Canadians with meatless options.

While London is regarded as the most vegan-friendly city in the world by Happy Cow's tally of the density of vegan or vegetarian restaurants, Toronto is in a close fifth place behind New York City, Berlin, and Los Angeles. Canadian plant-based eaters, we send our respect.