The month of January feels like a distant memory, but whether you decided to commit to Veganuary or not, the plant-based lifestyle is increasing in popularity — in 2018, the Vegan Society established that there are around 600,000 vegans in the United Kingdom and this figure is only set to grow. As a result, consumers are spending more and more on vegan food products — and it’s not just appealing to a strict vegan market. Many people are striking a balance somewhere in between veganism and vegetarianism, opting for a ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle. Products are flying from supermarket shelves, with Applewood’s vegan cheese selling out in 40% of its stockists in October 2019.
So, with a predicted veganism influx of 327% by the end of 2020 in the UK, could it be time to change up your lifestyle? Before you return back to your carnivorous habits, take a look at this comprehensive guide to all things flower-powered!
What is a vegan lifestyle, and what are the benefits?
If you lead a vegan lifestyle, your diet excludes all animal products — from meat, to dairy and anything derived from animals, such as gelatin. This also includes any foods that are processed using animal products (meaning that some wines will be off the menu!). People commit to vegan diets for a range of reasons, from animal welfare, to raising awareness of the carbon footprint of a carnivorous diet, or even as a health-related measure. As a result, the benefits of veganism will largely depend on the reason behind making the change; from a health perspective, it’s a nutrient rich diet, aiding weight loss, and there are studies which have suggested that it can lessen the risk of certain health conditions. However, as the climate change narrative continues to grow, there’s a growing emphasis on the role that veganism could play in lessening individual carbon output, which collectively, has the potential to help restore the world’s atmospheric levels. Many activist groups are turning their focus onto the environmental damage of human activity and the step towards making our everyday lives more sustainable.
What’s new for veganism in 2020?
The new decade started with something along the lines of a plant-based revolution, with many popular food retailers finally recognising the supply demand for vegan alternatives. Back in 2019, the popular bakery chain Greggs unleased hysteria with their vegan sausage roll, sitting alongside the traditional meat alternative. They followed this up in January 2020 with a remarkable marketing campaign leading up to the unveil of their vegan steak bake, which involved blacking out store windows, creating an air of exclusivity for the new product. The product has been a sold-out phenomenon, with many left empty-handed on their quest to sample the new product.
The vegan alternative has taken off, sending reverberations across the market as other retailers revealed their own plant-based treats. KFC, Frankie & Benny’s, Costa and Subway have all branched out to revel in the meat-free craze. There’s even a growing range of plant based sweet treats available, from fair trade vegan chocolate to doughnuts and more!
The growth in popularity and the strengthening of links between the meat and dairy industry has triggered a huge financial soar in the vegan food market, and it is now a multibillion-pound industry which only looks set to grow. In fact, the influx of plant-based products into the market was recorded at an impressive 9,590 new vegan options, as established by the Vegan Society.
The affordability of veganism
On the topic of money, leading a vegan diet has often been considered as a costly pursuit… So, is it actually expensive to be a vegan, or could it be realistic even for those on a budget? The answer to this varies, but for the most part, being vegan can certainly be purse friendly. Many of the core ingredients of a vegan diet are some of the cheapest components of the standard meal — vegetables, beans, pasta, rice and fruit. While there’s undoubtedly been a far wider variety of processed vegan options available in supermarket fridges, these are not necessarily healthy and can often be more costly additions on your weekly shop.
One vegan shopping trolley will differ from the next depending upon preference, but by filling your meals with affordable, staple ingredients such as lentils, pulses and tofu, you can be realistic when it comes to eating a purse friendly plant-based diet.
The UK’s vegan hubs
In a recent study by Nisbets, the top UK ‘vegan cities’ were revealed, with some interesting entries on the rundown. The cities which made the list have the most either vegan or vegetarian eateries, and Norwich came top of the bunch, closely followed by Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Newcastle.
In Glasgow, there are 3,000 listed veggie or vegan eateries, from the vibrant The 78 kitchen, The Flying Duck late night plant-based junk food, and the appropriately named ‘Glasvegan’ brunch spot. Back over the border, the North East has seen a lot of plant powered innovation in the past few years, from glazed vegan doughnut retailers, to the quirky Little Greens Cafe which prides itself on serving high protein, vegan options for brunch, lunch, and dinner. In fact, the annual vegan food fest ‘flower power’ is held at Tyne Bank Brewery, a bustling spot to sample a lot of vegan goodness. Many people are following the buzz of the vegan scene that a city has, but surprisingly the UK’s capital city doesn’t even feature on the list — suggesting that it’s got a bit of catching up to do!
The dietary demographic of our population is certainly changing, and the plant-based revolution only looks set to continue… Could it be time for you to make the switch?