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The Changing Face of the UK Vegan Market
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The Changing Face of the UK Vegan Market

There are three and a half times as many vegans in Britain now than there were a decade ago – over half a million of us – and going vegan is predicted to be the biggest food trend in 2018. This, naturally, also means that the vegan consumer market has a growing potential. Companies like Danone invest in the dairy-free market, Ben & Jerry’s made vegan ice cream, and even McDonald’s is trialing a vegan burger.

Contrary to public belief, veganism is far from being a fad diet – it’s a lifestyle choice that people make for very important ethical reasons; it’s a statement made against using and exploiting animals. The Vegan Society was founded in 1944, so the word ‘vegan’ is over seventy years old!

Our place within the movement is an important one. The Vegan Society is the leading evidence-based charity that promotes veganism in a strictly scientifically sound way. We stick to the facts, we don’t sensationalize, and we’re incredibly careful with any claims we make.

These precautions allow us to work with respected organizations that may not want to work with other vegan charities. For example, we have a memorandum of understanding with the British Dietetic Association to confirm that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living. It’s important for the vegan movement to have independent, authoritative voices speaking in its favor. Otherwise, we may be dismissed as being biased.

At The Vegan Society, we commission and publish important studies, such as the aforementioned survey that answered the question on everyone’s lips: how many vegans are there? We also found that over half (56%) of Brits have adopted some vegan buying behaviors and a quarter (26%) think public sector food outlets should provide a vegan option by law-- important findings for those in the food and drink sectors.

Veganism offers a tremendous opportunity for the retail industry precisely because it’s still a new and exciting concept that’s slowly but surely making its way into the mainstream. Offering vegan options makes clear commercial sense – it opens up the potential market to not only half a million vegans in Britain, but also to a million more vegetarians, the huge number of meat and dairy reducers, the lactose intolerant, followers of certain religious groups, the health-conscious, and others who simply enjoy vegan food from time to time.

Veganism is an exciting yet underexplored market with a huge growth potential that’s already happening. This year we’ve already seen exciting news in terms of new vegan products hitting the market. Just in the first two weeks of January, three major retailers - Tesco, Boots, and Asda – came out with new, entirely vegan lunch ranges. Ben & Jerry’s are developing more dairy-free flavors on top of the three already available in the UK, which will result in an impressive 20% of the company’s products being vegan.

Pizza Hut now has vegan cheese available and Zizzi is offering a new vegan pizza, on top of the extensive vegan menu they already had. Goodfella’s, a frozen pizza giant, launched the UK’s first mainstream pizza to be sold in supermarkets. Waitrose started selling vegan meat alternatives last month, while Marks and Spencer have a vegetarian meal alternatives range that includes vegan chicken-style chunks – an absolute gem. Quorn is also stepping up the game by launching new vegan deli products.

The loyalty of vegan customers must not go unnoticed either. We like to reward anyone offering vegan options by recommending them to our friends and sharing on social media. We do appreciate someone going the extra mile and making their business more diverse.

The future of veganism is bright. We at The Vegan Society hope to continue to lead the movement forward to become a core part of the mainstream culture.

Image copyright: The Vegan Society

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