The changing face of veganism

A new generation of consumers is attempting to challenge the traditional stereotype of a vegan. In 2014, Veganuary, an international charity that encourages people to try a vegan diet for a month, was established. Efforts by the organisation, together with the power of social media, saw veganism welcomed into the mainstream in 2017.

Veganuary claims that more than 120,000 people from around the globe have already pledged to become vegan for January 2018. People are becoming vegan for a number of reasons, a key one being that following a vegan diet has various health benefits, such as lower rates of obesity, blood pressure and levels of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, a vegan diet reduces the suffering of animals and is thought to have environmental benefits.

Veganism still only represents a small proportion of the population, both globally and in the UK. According to GlobalData’s Consumer Survey Q1 2017, only 2% of global consumers (and only 3% in UK) say they follow a vegan diet.

But due to growing health and environmental awareness, consumers are more receptive to these types of dietary movements. As identified by GlobalData’s Consumer Survey Q4 2017, 34% of global consumers would consider eating ‘vegan meat’ (lab produced) for health reasons, while 25% say they would consider for environmental reasons.

Supermarkets cash in on the excitement

Numerous restaurants and fast-food outlets have now adopted a vegan stance, helping to debunk the notion that you have to majorly change your lifestyle. Supermarkets are also beginning to implement a similar strategy in order to profit from the movement.

The Telegraph newspaper reported that premium UK supermarket chain Waitrose experienced a five-fold increase in online searches for vegan food in the run up to New Year’s, resulting in many stores looking to invest in additional vegan options. Other supermarkets are following suit with Sainsbury’s recently announcing a new vegan range and Aldi expected to release vegan options in the coming weeks.

In the future, we can expect supermarkets to increase their dairy and meat-free options to align with the growing interest in veganism. This is important as there is a compelling argument that it is more sustainable, having an overall lower carbon footprint than meat which creates twice as many greenhouse gas emissions.