The Rise of Veganism – Is Veganism Taking Over?

The Rise of Veganism – Is Veganism Taking Over?

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.

The Realities of Racism in the UK

The Realities of Racism in the UK

For centuries now there has been a global demand for racial justice. This is not a new demand, as those who have been colonised and enslaved, denied freedom and opportunity have been calling out for racial justice for generations before our time. We have come a long away from the brutality of slavery that ended in the UK in 1833, 32 years ahead of the US which isn’t really something to be proud of. However, as a country we have progressed tremendously in tackling racism and have little tolerance for it happening around us. People tip toe around the topic of racism and often try to avoid seeing it but for many black people in the UK still do this day, it is their lived reality.

During the summer months, the major focus in the media was the Black Lives Matters Movement. People on every corner of this planet in some way were affected by this protest which came alive after the brutal murder of George Floyd which shook me and many others to the very core. The uproar for equality after his murder rippled throughout the world and many actions were taken to abolish racism for example, many of the worlds largest brands were quick to support the BLM Movement, in the UK statues and monuments of people with links to slavery were taken down and millions of pounds were raised for the George Floyd fund which helps fight racism.

The UK took a stand against racism as millions of people marched in the BLM Movement protest to fight for racial justice however the counter narrative pushed back on these protests was that Britain is not racist like America so what have the black community got to complain about? Well for a start to even compare the two shows little intelligence on the matter, the fact that racism is still relevant in the UK is the problem. One look at the replies under the Sainsbury’s tweet for their Christmas campaign will have you second guessing that question.

On the 14th November, Sainsburys tweeted their ‘Gravy Song’ advertisement as part of their Christmas Campaign, staring the black actors Deenie Davies and Ademide Bodunde. The advertisement portrayed a black family who were yearning to spend Christmas together which is perfectly normal. However, Sainsburys encountered major backlash from racist twitter accounts slamming the supermarket for only including a black family. Responses such as, “Absolutely sickening”, or “Where are the British people? What fresh hell is this?” or even “You may as well rename yourself Blackbury’s!”, “You’ve managed to completely alienate the few remaining white customers you still had”, amongst many others that are too offensive to re-share. People actually threatened to boycott Sainsbury’s after seeing this ad which is hard to believe and just shows that racism is as prevalent as ever in the UK today. Sainsbury’s were forced to respond, “At Sainsbury’s, we want to be the most inclusive retailer. That’s why, throughout all our advertising we aim to represent a modern Britain, which has a diverse range of communities. We have three stories of three different families in our advertising.”

Imagine feeling so privileged to expect every single TV advert to feature someone that looks like you and anything less is an outrage to our society? In my opinion, the Sainsbury’s ad is a realistic representation of a black family in the UK and this shouldn’t be a problem in 2020, in fact we should be applauding this behaviour. But sadly, Sainsbury’s are not alone with having backlash for supporting the black community. Recently 24,500 complaints were made to OFCOM which is the most in this decade, for the performance dedicated to Black lives matter on Britain’s Got Talent by the dance group Diversity. They also received complaints about Alesha Dixons choice of jewellery that said BLM as a means of protest during the show. The UK even went as far as scrutinising Marcus Rashford for investing in property worth over 2 million pounds as a way of undermining the amazing work he put in to get underprivileged children free school meals during this pandemic.

Following the controversial Sainsbury’s advert, it turns out that Tesco have been accused for cutting out a black couple in their latest food advert as they fear they will receive backlash, according to model Vanessa Vanderpuye. The model showed behind the scenes footage on her Instagram of her and a black male starring in the Tesco advert but when the advert came out, they were nowhere to be seen without any explanation as to why they had been cut. Tesco denied that the actors’ race had anything to do with the decision for them to be cut from the advert and stated that, ‘At Tesco, we believe that diversity in our business makes us stronger and our advertising campaigns are designed to represent everyone, showing the breadth of the communities and customers we serve’. I find this very hard to believe, in fact it’s quite embarrassing.

The UK is on the verge of progressing racial justice however there are so many Britain’s out there who still hold outrageous and outdated racial views. We are slowly learning what it is to make decisions that decisively reject racism but the few of many examples I have talked about here are what’s holding us back from equality and it needs to stop!

Aloisia Loughran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The world works in mysterious ways

As I returned home from my Barcelona placement excursion I secured a job in Dublin. My main incentive was to gain some more experience for my CV and to prepare me for the world of work. 

Before I knew it, my 2nd big city experience of the year commenced.

Initially, Dublin didn’t seem a city I thought I would gel with, but I was so wrong!

I started my new job in an event management company on Camden Street, smack bang in the centre of the Dublin scene. My new workplace was everything I wanted and more, the happiness you get when having delightful work colleagues has such a detrimental impact on your daily wellbeing. I slowly found myself walking into work in the morning with a spring in my step. An eagerness to learn and excitement to see my works pals. I very quickly became one of the team.

Working on some of the coolest events the country had to offer I became very tired but so appreciative of the opportunities I was getting to experience! Seeing the most extravagant corporate employee parties to the madness behind the festival preparation scene. The backstage hustle was one I definitely loved and it gave me such an insight into my future career, and my excitement for it.

Not losing sight of the beauty that is our capital city… I loved the walk to work in the morning, getting to walk the streets of ‘the big smoke.’ Seeing the Molly Malone statue sit nicely whilst sipping on my Butlers coffee, I had never felt more at home. My lifestyle in Dublin seemed to be one that I fitted into perfectly. From the 9-5 working day to the sociable evenings with friends or a run around UCD campus to clear my head, I couldn’t fault it.

Being a stone’s throw from St Stephens Green made for lovely lunch time strolls and being only quick jaunt to Grafton Street was perfect for the occasional lunchtime shopping trip… ok very frequent shopping trip.

Back to the job, my favourite project had to be the “Tesco Finest* Banquet at Electric Picnic”. The Tesco Banquet was a fine dining experience prepared by chefs Derry Clarke and Mark Moriarty. Creating that finest experience at Electric Picnic, with all proceeds going to Pieta House (a charity helping those with mental health illnesses) and Temple St Children’s Hospital.

The set up began and then, all of a sudden it was festival week and we were in a field. The hard work was about to begin. The Marquee shot up, deliveries were arriving, crew men were assembling sets. Photo opportunities started to look the part, the bar was installed and stocked up, trees and décor began to take over what once was a plain old field. And with a wave of a magic wand we had a Banquet fit for the President himself. (It was not this simple and straightforward at the time, it was extremely stressful, but alas).

Showtime was upon us (EEK!). The Banquet began on the Saturday of Electric Picnic weekend so we had one more day to ensure absolute and utter perfection.

Well, before I knew it I was greeting Greg O’Shea (Ahhh!) and friends alongside other special guests into our Tesco finest* dining experience and showing them to their seats. Playing it very professional and cool, of course. The dining commenced on our first sitting and everything after that was a blur, but, it was amazing. The feedback was great and the general feel of the Banquet was beautiful. The Tiny Quartet’s strings accompanied by Niamh Farrell’s vocals sent goose bumps racing up your arms whilst guests sampled a 5 course meal fit for a king.

Just like that, it was over. We had 4 sittings with hundreds of guests and some very happy clients. With a whopper of a sum raised for the charities selected, how could we not be happy?

DE16

Undeniably a stressful, yet incredible, and very fulfilling job to take part in. I very much look forward to see what next year holds! 

As Mark Anthony once said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Derbhla Evans is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/derbhla-evans-132417153/

Tesco Clubcard Plus

After moving out of home this year and becoming an “adult” officially I have discovered how expensive grocery shopping is so when I heard about the new Tesco Clubcard Plus I thought it  would definitely  be an excellent way to save money.

The first advertisement for the scheme I saw was a billboard in town. It was simply a blown up photograph of a tennis player with a speech bubble poorly edited onto the image (he could have been really famous I know nothing about tennis), my initial thought to this wasn’t anything to do with the Clubcard but more in relation to how bad the advertisement was, for such a huge company. After seeing this billboard it seemed like there was no avoiding Tesco Clubcard Plus. It’s plastered on every bus top in Belfast, every ad break in any TV show, and now all over social media- with thanks to Mel B.

You’ve probably seen the image either in real life or if not, on social media somewhere. Mel B called out Tesco on her Instagram and demanded the CEO get in contact with her urgently. Tesco have come out and said that they had permission to use the photograph. However clearly Mel B thinks otherwise.

 “Here at Tesco we are really big fans of Mel B and were excited to feature her photo in our campaign,” “We had authorisation to use this image, but we’re sorry Mel B is unhappy so we’ve stopped using it.” Claimed a spokesperson for Tesco.

 Mel B has recently back tracked and claimed she did give permission for her photograph to be used and the rumours pretty much came out of nowhere, when in reality she created them. She explained in an instagram caption that she was originally meant to be working on a campaign with Women’s Aid but their funding fell through. She praised Tesco in the caption saying that they had been so understanding. Could this have all been set up between Tesco and Mel B to give the scheme more media attention?

With a slogan like “value you can’t stop talking about” you would think they value would be good. However it seems that all people are talking about it how terrible the value is.

You have to pay a monthly subscription of £7.99, to save money? The perks are that you can save 10% on two “big shops” a month. However Tesco have not clarified what falls under the category of “big shop” they have only said it has to be under £200.  The only way anyone would make a noticeable saving is if they were spending at least £150 twice a month. You would save £30 per month- before you take away the monthly subscription.  Anyone could easily save this on their monthly shops by shopping somewhere cheaper.

Next up, let’s talk about how lazy the advertising is for this scheme. All they have done is taken images of celebrities (potentially without their permission), and old movies, and inserted basic textboxes over the top- literally something a 10 year old could do on paint. The TV adverts include old movies with the characters talking about how much they could save on their Tesco shops. I just don’t get the relevance at all. None of it makes any sense to me.

So, was this a successful campaign for Tesco? They launched it at a good time; people will be shopping more leading up to Christmas. And of course many people have been talking about the campaign which is possibly giving it more publicity than it would have if for example, it had half decent advertisements and decent savings and offers. The whole thing baffles me; Tesco can afford to do so much better than this, both in their advertising and providing genuine savings for their customers.  Obviously there is more to the loyalty card that just the 10% off 2 big shops, there is also double data and discount on Tesco own brands. The scheme is not completely terrible. It could be very beneficial to large families or people with large appetites who will be spending £200 on 2 large shops a month, are with Tesco mobile and only by their clothes and other bits from Tesco?

 They are right in claiming this is value you can’t stop talking about, which is true, people can’t stop talking about the value, although they think it’s bad, people are still talking. So was it possible Tesco did all this to get people talking about their latest scheme to attract more attention?

Anna Tilley is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @annatilley_, Instagram – @annatilleyx and Linked In: Anna Tilley

‘Tis the season for making panic-fuelled purchases

If you’ve ever had a job in retail, especially over the Christmas period, then you’ll completely understand everything I’m about to say.

However, even if you haven’t, I’m sure you can imagine what exactly goes on for retail workers around this time of year, especially in what is, undoubtedly, one of the nation’s biggest supermarkets, Tesco.

This will be my second Christmas working in the grocery store chain, and even after three Christmas seasons working in an incredibly busy hotel that hosted some of the biggest Christmas parties, I’ve never experienced anything like a Christmas in Tesco.

In my opinion, Tesco customers are notorious for their panic-fuelled shopping, and this shopping behaviour usually begins before the Halloween celebrations end. From the middle of October until the 7th November, Tesco were offering a 2 for £7 deal on family sized tubs of classic Christmas chocolates, Celebrations, Heroes, Quality Street and Roses, and during this period, I’m sure I seen more than several shoppers purchasing an extensive amount of these chocolates, and I mean more than 10 tubs per person. I know this is a good deal when the individual tubs are £5 each, but at this point, 7 weeks before the big day, I can’t help but think where each customer will store all this chocolate?

Another example, around the same time as the chocolate deal, Tesco had their 1 Litre bottles of sprits on offer for £16, and one Sunday, I served someone who bought 9 bottles of each spirit imaginable, “oh these are all for Christmas.” She’s really going to kick herself when they go on offer for a lower price closer to the day.

The Guardian reported that Britain’s shoppers are expected to spend £4.2 billion on food and drink in the week leading up to Christmas, and honestly this doesn’t surprise me. In fact, I will be surprised if I serve anyone on the lead up to the big day, who’s shop totals up to less than £250. Especially as the celebrations draw closer, it’s inevitable that many shoppers will purchase things out of panic, just so they have things on the table and under the tree, and definitely as they feel they’re running out of time.

I don’t know whether people forget that the store only closes on Christmas Day, or whether a lot of people just like to stock up so they don’t need to leave the house over the Christmas period, but I can almost guarantee a huge amount of customers will be back in the store on Boxing Day, as if they didn’t buy 6 loaves of bread and £200 worth of alcohol 2 days before.

The truth of it all is, the majority of the British public hate to think about what would happen if they’d forgotten something they needed for the big day, when they wouldn’t have anywhere to go to get it, and because of this, most of them tend to panic and over-buy, just so they’re prepared for anything. In my experience, anyway.

If I had it my way, if customers are going to engage in panic buying behaviour, then all shops should be closed on Boxing Day too, where’s the need to drag poor retail workers out of their bed on Boxing Day, when everyone’s bought enough food and drink to last them three months?

Maybe one day, we’ll live in a world where retail workers don’t dread the Christmas season, and supermarket shoppers don’t act like the world is ending because the shop is closed for one day.

One can only hope.

Hollie Thomson is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook: Hollie Thomson and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holliethomson/