What was previously judged as an extreme lifestyle choice or even ridiculed as a fad has now become a highly popular way of life: veganism has seen plant-based food sales increase by a whopping 1,500% between 2016 and 2017 in the UK. Given the numerous benefits of veganism, which really doesn’t require “giving up” favourites like chocolate and cheese thanks to vegan alternative, it’s not surprising that it has finally found its footing in the mainstream.
In an article from the Vegan Society, data shows 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
There’s even a budding “middle ground” for those of us who aren’t ready to commit to a full-vegan diet, with many of us practicing “flexitarian” diets whereby we’re reducing the amount of meat and dairy we consume in favour of a few vegan or vegetarian options each week. Perhaps because of this, the mindset towards vegans has drastically improved, with 43% of people saying they respected vegans for their lifestyle.
What other factors have spurred on this increase in veganism in the UK? Looking at the results of 2018’s Veganuary, a movement that challenges people to sign up for a month of vegan eating, the top reason for people signing up was animal rights 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 is an element of vanity, The Independent suggest, as the trend of Googling “vegan” coinsides with a rise in searches for “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.
Looking at the 2018 food trends for vegans courtesy of Vegan Food & Living, and you can see how vegan options have grown:
- Veggie chips, such as parsnip chips and sweet potato chips, make for a healthier option than normal potato.
- Edible flowers, to make your meal Instagram-worthy!
- Vegan desserts, bringing back ice-cream and cakes in vegan-friendly ways. Ben and Jerry’s have released three delicious vegan-friendly ice creams: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, and Peanut Butter and Cookies are all sure to be a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike!
- Fermented foods, while they might not conjure the most delicious image to mind, are coming into food trends in a big way. Think colourful kimchi and nutty-flavoured tempeh.
There’s even a demand for more food to-go options. A recent survey found that 91% of vegans are having a tough time finding to-go meal options. The market is certainly there, and restaurants and supermarkets are slowly picking up on the potential gains to be made by catering to veganism.
On an individual basis, a vegan diet can provide a wealth of health benefits too. 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.
Growing your own veg can be a great way to adapt a little veganism to your lifestyle, while also saving you money on supermarket produce. Even a small garden can house a few home-grown herbs and fruits! You can grab a growbag and start cultivating your own supply of tomatoes for a home-made tomato sauce, or cucumbers for the freshest salad you’ll ever taste!
There’re loads of vegan proteins you can grow too. Think beans and seeds, like sunflower seeds or soybeans.
Will you be adding a few animal-product-free items to your shopping basket? You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how far vegan cooking has come, and if nothing else, you’ll reap the many environmental and health benefits.