Updated: 2nd January 2020
For many, the start of the year marks a chance for fresh beginnings, New Year’s resolutions, and the motivation to try something new. One such New Year’s challenge growing in popularity is Veganuary.
Veganuary sees individuals pledge to give up animal-based products for the duration of January. This involves participants abstaining from meat and seafood, as well as dairy, eggs, and anything else derived from animals. Over 170,000 people signed up for the challenge in 2019, and even more are expected to join in this year.
Moving into the mainstream
However, for many, consuming a vegan-only diet will continue long after January ends. There are now an estimated 600,000 vegans in the UK, a number which has grown fourfold from just 150,000 in 2006. From what was once a niche lifestyle choice, veganism, or at least plant-based eating, is now moving into the mainstream.
Individual motivations behind adopting a plant-based diet vary, with animal welfare, environmental impact, and health concerns all frequently touted as reasons individuals sought to change their eating habits.
While some have decided to make the switch to veganism full-time, for others, there is a desire to simply cut down on the consumption of animal based products and venture into eating plant-based for certain meals or perhaps for one or two days a week. Colloquially termed ‘reducetarian’ or ‘flexitarian’ diets, the appeal of meat-free meals now goes beyond those who define themselves as vegans and vegetarians.
Ethics, health, lifestyle
Recent documentaries such as The Game Changers, which extols the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, are pushing more and more people towards experimenting with food which was once solely the domain of vegans. Growing awareness and diagnosis of food intolerances and allergies has also fuelled the surge in ‘free from’ products.
Almost half of respondents from a recent survey reported avoidance of certain food products in their household due to either dietary or lifestyle reasons. With many individuals now abstaining from dairy due to food intolerances, the appeal of dairy-free products has been extended way beyond just those following a vegan diet.
A growing market
This has fuelled the growth in demand for plant-based food in restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and supermarkets. This rapidly growing market has seen an influx of new products with many companies – established food producers, start-ups, and supermarkets themselves –introducing their own contribution to the plant-based movement. The market is now said to be worth £572m, and is expected to top £658m by 2021.
The plant-based movement represents a real potential growth area not just for food producers but also for restaurants, cafes and takeaways. Online delivery service Deliveroo has revealed that orders for vegan food have quadrupled over the past two years making it the fastest-growing takeaway option in the UK. The market is here and ready for companies to seize upon – a move which many have already made.