As of 2010, 21.8% of the world's population is either vegetarian or vegan. [source]
I have been a vegan for 16 years (and a vegetarian for 22 years), which is pretty much half my life – and barring some kind of unprecedented event of survival, I don't see that changing any time soon. Being vegan has occasionally had its setbacks, such as influencing my decision about not attending a conventional cooking school before working as a chef, because I didn't want to work extensively with meat. But more so, it's awarded me a tremendous amount of opportunity – the ability to explore an often-underused array of natural foods, which has added creativity to my recipes and enhanced the health of myself and others to the fullest. For me, this is the diet that offers me the most energy, enhances productivity and allows me to truly thrive.
Most people categorize a vegan as “someone who does not eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs – in other words, no animal products.” While this may be true, I cringe a little at this definition, because it sounds so limiting! No wonder the first question most non-vegan folks ask is “so...what do you eat?” Quickly followed by “where do you get your protein?” (I can assure you, this has never once been an issue, but that's another story altogether). I prefer to speak more often about my diet being “plant-based.” This is because being vegan has much less to do with the few things I don't consume and more about the plethora of foods I do eat…and it all comes down to plants.