FOODIE - How vegan became mainstream

It wasn’t that long ago that the word ‘vegan’ would be met with looks of confusion, or indeed, a chuckle or two. It used to be deemed an overly-extreme lifestyle choice, almost akin self-deprivation. But now, it’s linked to all kinds of health benefits; perhaps it is predicted that a record number of Brits are taking part in Veganuary in 2019, with over 2.66 million people estimated to sign up in one survey.

One study from The Vegan Society revealed that within the UK:
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

Plus, for those who aren’t willing to forgo meat and dairy entirely, there’s a growing trend for ‘flexitarians’ — where people opt for vegan or vegetarian meals every so often and actively reduce their meat intake. In fact, 34% of meat eaters in the UK had reduced their meat intake as of July 2018, where only 28% had done in 2017. Maybe because of this, the mindset towards vegans has drastically improved, with 43% of people saying they respected vegans for their lifestyle.

But what is it that’s really bringing veganism into the spotlight? Looking at the results of last year’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.

There could be a slight note of vanity to veganism too, as Google searches for the word ‘vegan’ have grown in line with the word ‘Instagram’. 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.

Vegan food choices have definitely expanded in recent years, which is sure to have helped tempt more and more people into ditching animal products. For example, Live Kindly outlined some amazing vegan food trends for 2019 that sounds truly delicious:
Vegan seafood is set to take centre stage, as arguably the final frontier for plant-based substitutes to offer up.
Vegan ice-cream and deserts are also on the rise, with the likes of Ben & Jerry’s releasing vegan ice-cream options in 2018 and leading the way for other ice-cream companies to follow suit.
Vegan jerky is pinned to be the vegan snack of 2019, offering up a meaty, chewy treat without any animal product!

Vegan cheese will expand its repertoire in 2019, with more variety of offerings such as parmesan-style and Blue-type cheese. Vegans and lactose-intolerant people, rejoice!

Naturally, businesses can help themselves out in 2019 by offering more go-to options for vegans. A recent survey found that 91% of vegans are having a tough time finding to-go meal options. The market is certainly there, just look at Greggs their headline-grabbing vegan sausage roll launch in early 2019 saw the meat-free version of their customer favourite appear in 900 stores. But after becoming the fastest selling launch for the company in more than six years, it is now set to head to 1,800 stores.

Making the vegan switch can be beneficial on a personal level 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.

If you’re not ready to take the full vegan-plunge, why not try going a little flexitarian or grow your own vegetables and fruits? Even a small garden can house a few home-grown herbs and fruits! You can grab a grow bag and start cultivating your own supply of tomatoes for a home-made tomato sauce, or cucumbers for the freshest salad you’ll ever taste! Don’t forget your proteins — 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.

Will vegan choices be making an appearance in your diet? 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.


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