Tuesday 15 January 2019

The growth of veganism

At one point, being a “vegan” was very uncommon and often misjudged. It was never positively advertised on packaging, adverts, social media or even the menus in restaurants. It was commonly known as an extreme diet or life choice which was expected to go mainstream. However, due to positive advertising and many health benefits unveiled and certain movements such as Veganuary which took off in 2018 and continued into 2019’s January, the image of being a vegan has very much changed. One study from The Vegan Society revealed that:

  • 56% of adults in the UK practice vegan buying behaviours
  • 19% have cut down on buying meat and are checking cosmetics and toiletries for animal-testing
  • 13% actively choose meat-free or dairy-free meals when eating out
  • 51% are happy to see vegan food in shops and restaurants
If you don’t feel like you could commit to a full vegan diet, you could always give being a “flexitarian” a go. The idea of a flexitarian is to make conscious decisions when choosing what you eat which sways more towards vegan behaviours. In fact, 34% of meat eaters in the UK had reduced their meat intake as of July 2018, where only 28% had done in 2017. Maybe because of this, the mindset towards vegans has drastically improved, with 43% of people saying they respected vegans for their lifestyle.
It’s important to look at why the idea of being a vegan is only becoming more popular now. If we take a look at the results taken from last years Veganuary, which sees people signing up to follow the vegan diet for the whole of January, shows that the main reason wanted to do the trial was because of animal right concerns (43%). This was followed by 39% of people who signed up for health reasons, and 10% who said it was for environmental reasons. There could be a slight note of vanity to veganism too, as Google searches for the word ‘vegan’ have grown in line with the word ‘Instagram’. In a world where we love to take photos of our meals and share them on social media, it’s not difficult to believe that Instagram has helped circulate numerous brightly-coloured vegan dishes to help improve its previously ill-held reputation of being nothing but leaves.
A huge contributing factor is that the food choices for vegans have definitely improved over the past few years, for example, Live Kindly outlined some amazing vegan food trends for 2019 that sounds truly delicious:

  • Vegan seafood is set to take centre stage, as arguably the final frontier for plant-based substitutes to offer up.
  • Vegan cheese will expand its repertoire in 2019, with more variety of offerings such as parmesan-style and Blue-type cheese. Vegans and lactose-intolerant people, rejoice!
  • Vegan ice-cream and desserts are also on the rise, with the likes of Ben & Jerry’s releasing vegan ice-cream options in 2018 and leading the way for other ice-cream companies to follow suit.
  • Vegan jerky is pinned to be the vegan snack of 2019, offering up a meaty, chewy treat without any animal product!
Of course, businesses can make a considerable profit by including vegan options to their selection, especially options the buy can grab and go. A recent survey found that 91% of vegans are having a tough time finding to-go meal options. The market is certainly there, just look at Greggs — their headline-grabbing vegan sausage roll launch in early 2019 saw the meat-free version of their customer favourite appear in 900 stores. But after becoming the fastest-selling launch for the company in more than six years, it is now set to head to 1,800 stores.

Converting to veganism can be good for personal reasons. A new study was brought to the public eye by The Guardian, outlining that the “five-a-day” notion for fruit and vegetable consumption is, sadly, not entirely accurate. In fact, the study from the Imperial College London advises 10-a-day! The now-recommended 800g of fruit and veg daily would help reduce heart disease, strokes and premature deaths. Picking up a few vegan meals throughout the week, or switching to a vegan diet entirely, would certainly help hit this healthy target.
If you have an interest in making your eating habit a bit healthier but can’t imagine yourself going fully vegan, a great step could be to just simply increase your plant-based intake. You could grow your own vegetables and fruits in manure to start with! Even a small garden can house a few home-grown herbs and fruits! You can grab a grow bag and start cultivating your own supply of tomatoes for a home-made tomato sauce, or cucumbers for the freshest salad you’ll ever taste! Don’t forget your proteins — a vegan diet has loads to choose from, and you can grow some in your garden alongside the veggies. Think beans and seeds, like sunflower seeds or soybeans.
Do you think you could make the change and follow the strict vegan diet? If so, you can look forward to positive health benefits and helping the environment.