Veganism: here to stay?

It wasn’t long ago that veganism was regarded as something of an extreme lifestyle choice. On the surface, it does look like a huge decision; giving up chocolate? No more eggs? What about cheese? Well, there’s plenty of vegan-friendly alternatives that mimic these well-loved ingredients, so you can have your cake and eat it – with vegan-substitute eggs and milk, of course.

And it looks like people certainly are, with plant-based food sales up 1,500% in the UK between 2016 and 2017. If households are buying more vegan produce, shouldn’t hospitality firms follow suit?

According to the Vegan Society, in terms of the UK’s population:

  • 56% of adults in the UK practice vegan buying behaviours

  • 19% have cut down on buying meat and are checking cosmetics and toiletries for animal-testing

  • 13% actively choose meat-free or dairy-free meals when eating out

  • 51% are happy to see vegan food in shops and restaurants

It’s no longer the case that vegan option appeal only to vegans. Many people are opting to change some of their meals to a vegan option, or follow a more ‘flexitarian’ diet whereby they still consume animal-based products from time to time. Perhaps because of this, the mindset towards vegans has drastically improved, with 43% of people saying they respected vegans for their lifestyle.

While a recent surge of climate-concern might be a contributing factor to veganism’s rise, there’s other aspects that stand out too. Looking at the results of 2018’s Veganuary, a movement that challenges people to sign up for a month of vegan eating, the top reason for people signing up was animal rights concerns (43%). This was followed by 39% of people who signed up for health reasons, and 10% who said it was for environmental reasons.

However, according to a report by the Independent, Google searches for the word ‘vegan’ has risen in-line with searches for ‘Instagram’, suggesting that veganism owes some of its rebranding to the social media platform. In a world where we love to take photos of our meals and share them on social media, it’s not difficult to believe that Instagram has helped circulate numerous brightly-coloured vegan dishes to help improve its previously ill-held reputation of being nothing but leaves.

If you’re looking for Instagram-worthy meals, vegan meals are a colourful array. Vegan Food & Living explored a few examples of colourful vegan food trends for 2018:

  • Veggie chips, such as parsnip chips and sweet potato chips, make for a healthier option than normal potato.

  • Edible flowers, to make your meal Instagram-worthy!

  • Vegan desserts, bringing back ice-cream and cakes in vegan-friendly ways. Ben and Jerry’s have released three delicious vegan-friendly ice creams: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, and Peanut Butter and Cookies are all sure to be a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike!

  • Fermented foods, while they might not conjure the most delicious image to mind, are coming into food trends in a big way. Think colourful kimchi and nutty-flavoured tempeh.

Many vegans are hoping to see more vegan to-go options, such as lunch deals, so businesses would do well to cater towards this. A recent survey found that 91% of vegans are having a tough time finding to-go meal options. The market is certainly there, and restaurants and supermarkets are slowly picking up on the potential gains to be made by catering to veganism.

Some people want to see more vegan options for the health benefits too. A new study was brought to the public eye by The Guardian, outlining that the “five-a-day” notion for fruit and vegetable consumption is, sadly, not entirely accurate. In fact, the study from the Imperial College London advises 10-a-day! The now-recommended 800g of fruit and veg daily would help reduce heart disease, strokes and premature deaths. Picking up a few vegan meals throughout the week, or switching to a vegan diet entirely, would certainly help hit this healthy target.

Outside of business, you might want to involve some veganism in your own diet; growing your own veg is a great way to do this. Even a small garden can house a few home-grown herbs and fruits! You can grab some growbags and garden bark mulch and start cultivating your own supply of tomatoes for a home-made tomato sauce, or cucumbers for the freshest salad you’ll ever taste!

Remember to grow some proteins too! A vegan diet has loads to choose from, and you can grow some in your garden alongside the veggies. Think beans and seeds, like sunflower seeds or soybeans.

How do you feel about the increase in veganism? You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how far vegan cooking has come, and if nothing else, you’ll reap the many environmental and health benefits.