Has 2018 been the year of mainstream veganism?
A survey published by the Vegan Society & Vegan Life Magazine in 2016, revealed that 540,000 people identified as vegan in Great Britain. A new survey published by Compare the Market in 2018 has identified more than 3.5 million people now identifying as vegan in Britain. That’s a whopping 7% of the population.
Walking down streets and seeing an ever increasing number of “Vegan Options Available” signs outside cafes, bars and restaurants; being able to enter almost any supermarket and find a huge selection of vegan products; and watching the news with wide eyes as Unilever backs a worldwide ban on animal testing, I would certainly have to say it’s felt a lot like I’m a part of the start of something absolutely huge right now.
An awakening of consciousness, as people become more concerned and aware of how their food is produced, of where it comes from and how healthy it is, of the processes that cosmetics and cleaning products have gone through to reach our shelves, of the environmental impacts of consuming animal products; of the needless animal suffering that goes on to put food on our plates.
Since last November, the rise of Veganism worldwide has been huge, but particularly in the UK I have found it very noticeable, and vegan ranges across supermarkets and big brands have been flooding the market in a way we’ve never seen before.
In 2018, the Veganuary campaign had a huge growth of 183%, with 168,500 people worldwide pledging to try vegan for one month. Compare that to 59,500 in 2017 and it leaves me incredibly excited to see what 2019 will bring.
Just a few weeks ago, one of Britain’s most watched shows, The Great British Bake Off hosted an entirely vegan baking challenge. It was great to see veganism accepted as an important and valid part of society and culture, and I am sure this will lead to more vegan programming on mainstream TV.
So, what has happened in the past few years that has shifted people towards veganism? Surveys by Mintel have revealed that 49% of participants were interested in cutting down meat consumption for health reasons, whilst animal welfare and the environment came in as strong factors too.
Social media and the internet is a huge factor is raising awareness. People are more able to access information, resources and see the reality behind the meat, dairy and egg industries. They are then able to make a conscious decision about whether eating these products is the right choice for them. Since 2008 there has been a steady rise in the number of searches relating to veganism on Google.
Concern for the environment, climate change and plastics have also been on the rise, and recent studies have shown that going vegan is the “single biggest way” to reduce our environmental impact. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.
Findings published in the article in the journal ‘Science‘, reveal that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the products themselves provide just 37 per cent of protein levels around the world.
Anyone with concern for the environment, therefore has to genuinely consider veganism in order to make a real difference.
November 1st is World Vegan Day and marks the start of World Vegan Month. Celebrated around the world, it’s a time to recognise how far the vegan movement has come, and share with others just how easy and rewarding veganism is. I would like to celebrate 2018 and the rise of veganism, not only in Britain, but around the world. It’s an absolute honour to be a part of a growing movement, which I feel will be looked back on with as much importance as the women’s suffrage movement, as we speak up for those who have no voice.
So, why not take the Vegan Society’s 30 Day Pledge this month and give veganism a try.
Happy World Vegan Month.