We are seeing vegan options being added to the menus of most cafes and restaurants, and the introduction of vegan brands to nearly all supermarkets. Some examples include Wicked Kitchen in Tesco, Plant Pioneers in Sainsbury’s and Plant Kitchen in M&S. With over half a million people in the UK pledging to go vegan in January, let’s explore why veganism is taking over? 

First of all, let’s look at the trend of going vegan in January, also known as Veganuary, which has been growing in popularity in recent years. According to charity Veganuary, 582,538 people signed-up to take part in a challenge to go completely vegan in January 2021, compared to 400,000 in 2020 – exceeding the charity’s 2021 target of 500,000. Due to the rising popularity of the challenge, Veganuary drove supermarkets to increase their vegan range with most supermarkets now offering a full section dedicated to plant-based alternatives. For example, in Tesco, their meat alternative range is based at the end of one of their meat aisles to encourage meat eaters to have a nosey when they reach the end of the aisle and see the alternatives on offer.

But why are people turning vegan? The BBC reported on a survey carried out by Mintel of 1,040 British adults and asked the reasoning behind people eating less meat and I have included the results below:

49% of those interested in cutting down on their meat intake said they would for health reasons, with over 50% of those who are non-meat eaters stating their biggest reason is for animal welfare.

You can read more on this here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44488051

In addition, a growing number of celebrities are announcing they’re vegan including Beyonce, Madonna, Ariana Grande and Zac Efron. There are also a number of YouTube stars and influencers are also vegan including Lucy Watson and Fearne Cotton. 

The popularity of video app TikTok has also encouraged increasing numbers of young people to make the change to veganism as there are plenty of videos of recipes to illustrate how easy it is to make that change. If you want to explore how TikTok is doing this then read this great article from the Independent explaining how vegan influencers are helping others to make that change: https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/sustainable-living/vegan-based-tik-tok-plantboiis-b1795724.html

So, is veganism taking over? Veganism is definitely gaining more popularity with over 580,000 people across the UK pledging to go vegan for at least a month this year. Furthermore, research on plant-based meat alternatives conducted by investment bank UBS found that the number of people who tried plant-based meat alternatives increased from 48% to 53% between March and November last year. Of those who tried plant-based alternatives, approximately half said that they would continue to eat them at least once a week.

The amount of people taking on the vegan lifestyle in the UK is increasing every year and exceeding expectations. Would you be interested in going vegan? With the growing number of vegan options, it’s probably easier than you think!

Niamh Deeny is currently on her work placement year for BSc Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.