If you aren’t vegan, then you aren’t following the biggest trend of 2018. In 2014, only 0.8% of the population identified as vegan so why are 7% subscribing to this lifestyle? 7% is small in comparison to meat eaters however, if the movement continues to grow with this momentum, we can only predict the future is surely vegan.
There’s no doubt that millions of Brits have strolled down the aisles of their local Tesco’s and gazed in curiosity at the ever-expanding “almond milk” selection. Some may ponder - “how do you milk an almond?” and “who even drinks this stuff?”
Vegans, that’s who. And who is vegan? Veganism has strong celebrity support with Miley Cyrus, Natalie Portman and Bill Clinton all subscribing to the diet. Although the “A listers” seem keen to be on the diet and be seen to be on the diet, vegans argue that their food is so simple, delicious and accessible that even your grandma can do it.
Many people still aren’t clear on and don’t understand what a vegan actually is or what they do. Veganism is seemingly taking the world by storm but what exactly is it?
Veganism in a nutshell
Although thought of by some as “radical”, the vegan lifestyle isn’t that different to vegetarians. The main common denominator is that a vegan does not consume the flesh of animals that were once alive just like a vegetarian.
Vegans take their beliefs not one, but several steps further, by cutting out more food groups and lifestyle choices out.
No eggs, honey or dairy may be consumed as these are products obtained from an animal. Why this self-imposed prohibition? It’s because vegans see the production of eggs, honey, and diary as animal exploitation. It only makes sense that these food choices translate into wide lifestyle choices to avoid buying any objects made from the materials of animals. That means that leather Doc Martens, silk shirts, and woollen winter jumpers are off limits.
The food industry (production and serving) is swiftly following the trend. As consumers turn to milk and meat alternatives, companies want to capture the new vegan pound.
Very vegan comfort food
More and more consumers are making purchasing decisions with veganism in mind. This explosion in demand has sparked competition among food manufacturers and the restaurant trade to tap into the vegan market. That includes Pizza Hut and McDonalds - both notoriously ‘meaty’ companies, both of which now offer a vegan option. There’s now no need for your one vegan friend to be segregated to the salad bar as they can now they can tuck into as much fast food as their friends!
Even Ben & Jerry’s, a company that once exclusively sold dairy ice cream, now cater for those that avoid dairy like the plague. Supermarkets are also following suit as Tesco, Waitrose and Asda expand their stocklist of vegan products in their own brand name. Want vegan chicken nuggets? Just pop down the road to Asda - it’s no longer a frantic hunt to find dietary alternatives.
There appears to be serious money to be made in the vegan trend and it makes complete commercial sense that more and more companies are eager to please the vegan customer.
Dine out vegan style
With the increase in restaurant options, vegans no longer run home to the confines of their kitchen every time their stomach growls. Even some of the most ‘carnivorous” of restaurants now cater for vegans.
JD Wetherspoons is beloved on a national basis and now too by vegans. They offer sweet potato, chickpea & spinach curry and even an apple crumble for your sweet tooth. Café Nero supply beetroot hummus wraps and Mediterranean Veg Hot Pot. Yo Sushi, a chain that screams “raw fish served here”, now offers 19 vegan options.
Smaller restaurants are getting involved too – an example being The Bohemian in Newcastle offering a vegan chilli dog, fries and onion rings. Even the strictest of vegans can now enjoy dining out by eating meat-like products that don’t contain any meat.
Everybody wins. Vegans are enjoying these new-found dining delights as are the companies and restaurants with the new income they’re making from an entirely new (and probably unexpected) audience.
Vegan today, eating meat tomorrow.
The rapid rise is encouraging but beware the temptation to dismiss the potential of an equally fast decline just lurking around the corner. Companies should be careful to not expand their product range and menus too much in the favour of vegans. Those with few dietary restrictions could be discouraged if a company primarily caters for a vegan demographic.
As with anything, there is contradictory information available. Some research points towards a vegan future while others suggest that it is a mere fad. Only 1 in every 5 vegetarians and vegans stick to their diet long term - 84% eventually return to a diet that includes all of the food pyramid.
Unpredictability is something we all must cope with in the food industry. Who is to say the growth in veganism will stay? If the past has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Although research suggests veganism will continue to grow in popularity, nothing is guaranteed.
Veganism is increasing right now, here, today – but can the British population really turn its nose up for good at cream in their coffee and a carvery Sunday roast?
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