Health is a modern day obsession and as more evidence comes to light of the devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet, more and more consumers are opting out of the standard human diet and instead choosing to be vegan.
This year, The Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life Magazine commissioned research that found that there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain: three and a half times as many as estimated in 2006.
This tells us there are now at least 542,000 people in Britain are now following a vegan diet and never consume any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey. This is a whopping increase since the last estimate of 150,000 ten years ago.
The study also found that 3.25% of the population, around 1.68 million people, are either vegetarian or vegan. More than 860,000 of all vegetarians and vegans also avoid all non-dietary animal products such as leather and wool.
A big influencer of this trend is the documentary ‘ Cowspiracy’, where the directors discover that animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution and is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry.
As the documentary continues the directors approach leaders in the sustainability movement and finds it is a topic no one wants to confess to.
He then meets industry whistle-blowers and watchdogs who warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist the investigation.
The documentary has recently hit mainstream audiences though Netflix where Leonardo di Caprio has exclusively made a new ‘cut’ of the original.
This documentary is fantastic and definitely worth a watch.
It is not only documentaries getting people talking either, positive portrayal through mainstream celebrities and personalities have given the diet a new importance.
Vegan Life magazine publishing director Keith Coomber said: “The public perception of veganism is changing fast. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible - you can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and many more other vegan-friendly products.
“As consumers become more savvy about the reality of the farming industry, and the health implications of meat and dairy products, this boom will only continue.”
Also, easily accessible and cheaper vegan alternative recipes have found a new spotlight on social media channels including Instagram & Pinterest.
In addition, new statistics show that orders for PETA UK’s vegan starter kits are only on the rise - from 14,000 in 2013 to 28,300 in 2014 to a total of 35,000 in 2015.
After launching a Vegan New Year 31-day pledge this year, Peta found that a massive 88 per cent of participating respondents said that they planned to stay vegan after January, and another 9 per cent said they would consider it.
More and more consumers are coming to realise that even just reducing their intake of animal product is potentially the best thing any individual can do for themselves and the planet.
There is further evidence that now also shows that meat alternatives and non-dairy milks are no longer the choice only of people with dietary concerns, vegans or vegetarians.
Worldwide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled between 2009 and 2015 to £16bn ($21bn, €19bn), according to Euromonitor.
Sales of non-dairy ice cream in the US increased by 44% in the 12 months to the end of May, according to Nielsen, while sales of dairy ice cream rose by only 3%.
Almost half of vegans are aged 15–34 (42%), compared with just 14% who are over 65.
The vast majority of vegans live in urban or suburban areas (88%) compared with rural areas (12%) and this is reflected in London, where 22% of all vegans in Britain live – more than any other region. Significantly, almost twice as many vegans identify as female (63%) than male (37%).