A perfectly tanned, toned, blonde woman, decked in red lipstick and red lingerie, stares at me from my laptop screen. Kalel, a YouTube star with two million followers, is instructing “How To Get A Victoria’s Secret Model Body.” Her secret (beyond endless workouts) for the last five years: a plant-based vegan diet. Later that day, she posts an Instagram of bright green avocado toast with freshly diced tomatoes sprinkled on top, and the caption advertises her love for her vegan lifestyle.

I click on another video. This one is titled, “What I Eat in A Day.” This YouTuber, Tess Begg, with more than 200,000 subscribers, starts out with making a smoothie, displaying an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Throughout the video, she gives running commentary, crediting her slim figure and flawless face to her vegan diet of two years. That evening, she posts an Instagram highlighting the brilliant hues of the fruits she used earlier in the day. I scroll through the comments. Within minutes, people are saying how much veganism has changed their lives. One girl says, “It all looks so pretty. I would literally become vegan just for the dope instas. Do it for the “gram.’”

Veganism, once thought of as a hippie-like lifestyle adopted by animal activists wearing tie-dye and eating patchouli burgers, has stepped out of the food co-op and gained a few million followers. But, what’s the reason? Are people going vegan to help the planet or to post pictures on Instagram of colorful dragonfruits or to show off their vitamin B12 deficient bodies?

To its adherents, veganism is a lifestyle choice to adopt a clean, compassionate diet generally avoiding eggs, dairy and meat products. In recent years, many celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Usher and Natalie Portman, have embraced veganism. Compassion Over Killing named plant-based food as a top trend for 2016. What has caused this increasing attraction to the vegan lifestyle?

Market intelligence agency Mintel identified millennials as the generation driving this shift in eating habits. They are conscientiously and increasingly adapting to the vegan lifestyle and with it influencing other generations towards a change.

Stella Rae, a vegan YouTuber with more than 200,000 subscribers, credits this trend to both celebrity endorsements and a greater awareness of the practices of the meat and dairy industries. “I became vegan six years ago, before hipsters got a hold of it,” Rae said. “It annoys me when people decide to become vegan just because it’s trendy. Veganism is more work than just posting on Instagram.”

The heavy influence of social media stoked the trend as young adults have become more concerned with the aesthetics of their Instagram feeds rather than the content. For some milennials, veganism is reduced to a “like” generator. Lara Schwieger, a 20-year-old junior at Emory University, made the transition to the vegan lifestyle in September 2015 after watching “Forks Over Knives,” a documentary about the hidden realities of the meat and dairy industries. “I turned vegan for ethical reasons, but I have to say the likes on my Instagram posts have increased as well,” said Schwieger.

Some YouTube celebs, including  Kalel, Freelee the Banana Girl and Kalyn Nicholson, have profited with videos of their high-carb, low-fat or “Raw ‘Til 4” vegan lifestyles. Due to their popularity and growing fan bases, their subscribers look to them as role models and want to follow in their footsteps. “I became vegan after watching several videos by Freelee, High Carb Hannah, and other YouTubers, about the lifestyle, and how beneficial it was health-wise,” Rae said. “I love being raw and real with my followers. That’s why I post videos of even the smallest things like what I eat everyday at home or even out.”

The Vegetarian Resource Group claims that 3.3 percent of the U.S. population is either vegan or vegetarian. There are several types of vegans. They can range from part-time vegans, who are people who try veganism for only a part of the day or for part of the year, to strict vegans, who do not purchase any goods or services relating to animal products. Beyoncé and Jay-Z tried a part-time vegan diet for 22 days in 2016, falling into the former category of vegans. YouTuber Freelee the Banana Girl, with over 700,000 subscribers, on the other hand, fills her video content by finding celebrities or other YouTubers and picking apart everything that is anti-vegan about them.

For all the upside touted by the YouTubers, there’s one big downside that they fail to mention: the dietary balance required with a vegan diet. Many so-called “activists” turn to veganism to stop contributing to the harsh ways of the meat and dairy industries and to become healthier. However, they don’t consider the health risks that come with a vegan lifestyle.

Nutritionist Catherine Crow, principal at Butter Nutrition, advises people who wish to make the switch to a vegan diet to plan out their meals according to the dietary regulations set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Tofu, a vegan diet staple, contains excessive amounts of phytoestrogen, causing hair loss, weight gain, sleep trouble, lethargy, a reduced sex drive, and irregular periods, she says. This means that in order to maintain a hormonal balance, a vegan’s diet plan must center around moderation. “The reality is that soy protein is very difficult to digest, thyroid suppressive and estrogenic due to phytoestrogens,” Crow said.

Vegan diets are also known to lack amino acids, the building blocks of protein. “Liver detoxification is driven by amino acids. Long-term vegan diets tend to impair liver detoxification pathways leading to toxicity,” Crow said.

Veganism can be defined by the people who practice the lifestyle. The practitioners include those who that follow veganism for short bouts of time, those who that follow veganism almost religiously, and those who  that become vegan to protect animal rights and those that become vegan for the pretty pictures. Despite the common perception that veganism has had in the past, its growing support and added celebrity involvement has created a hot trend no therefore in journalism  Although the façade for many may be that they want a healthy lifestyle with no animal products, these YouTubers give clear evidence that veganism attracts “likes’ and followers, and that in turn contributes to their livelihoods.