The Rise of the Vegan Food Industry: Just Why is it so Popular?

The Rise of the Vegan Food Industry: Just Why is it so Popular?

More and more Brits are turning their back on meat and dairy, instead opting to follow a vegan lifestyle. Plant-based diets are becoming the norm, and a massive 29% of evening meals do not include meat, according to a survey by Kantar World Panel.

Following on from the most successful Veganuary campaign to date, it seems that more people are making the conscious effort to cut animal products from their diets, whether for just one meal a day, or for good. Here we’ll go through why people have made the lifestyle change to veganism, and how it’s become easier than ever.

Information on the meat/dairy industry is easily available

For generations, it was considered common knowledge that humans needed meat and dairy as part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, we now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly now that there is more information than ever on the effects that meat and dairy have on the human digestive system.

Those who live a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle generally have lower cholesterol levels than meat eaters, reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases. Not only does this improve a person’s overall health, but it can also work to save money on medical bills across the world. Cutting out dairy lowers the intake of high amounts of fat and hormones. These are not found in dairy-free alternatives, such as soy or oat-based products, which are therefore healthier options.

Despite the health benefits that come with switching to a meat and dairy-free life, many people consider the cruelty-free aspect as their primary motive.

Documentaries and films such as Earthlings and Okja highlight the suffering that animals go through to be farmed for human consumption, and many people have admitted to cutting out meat after watching these films, or at least switching to more organic and free-range options.

Many documentaries also explain the effects of animal agriculture on the planet, including greenhouse gas emissions and the excessive amount of water required to rear animals for slaughter. Cowspiracy for example, goes into detail about how animal agriculture is harming the planet, and how switching to a meat-free diet can help to save the earth.

It’s easier than ever to adopt a plant-based diet

With the rising concern over the meat and dairy industries, more people are looking to alternatives. Vegan entrepreneurs have been working on providing easily accessible alternatives for the growing community, while larger corporations are also jumping on board the cruelty-free bandwagon. British company Huel, for example, offer vegan powdered food for quick and nutritious meals while on the go, while brands such as Fry’s offer meat-alternatives to help create traditionally meaty recipes, such as burgers and hot dogs, without the ethical and health concerns. These kinds of foods can also help people transition into veganism, especially if they enjoy the taste of meat but aren’t happy with the mistreatment of animals. Using ingredients which still have a familiar taste, without the cruelty, can make it much easier to steer away from eating meat.

There is also a constantly growing range of dairy-free alternatives from a number of brands. Larger, established businesses such as Violife offer a range of vegan cheeses, that are all coconut oil based, and can be found in most supermarkets.

Influencers are using their platforms to spread awareness

Society is generally influenced by social media, and people tend to follow the actions of those they look up to. Now, with more celebrities championing an animal cruelty-free lifestyle, veganism is quickly entering the mainstream. From Michelle Pfeiffer to Miley Cyrus, vegan celebrities aren’t quiet about their choices, and often speak about their lifestyle in interviews and online. The vegan community has also championed their own social media influencers, and users such as Monami Frost and Sean O’Callaghan (known as Fat Gay Vegan) post almost exclusively about veganism, encouraging others to join the movement.

By sharing their own recipes or promoting vegan events and restaurants, these influencers are able to spread awareness and increase the number of buyers of specific vegan products, which can massively help burgeoning businesses.

Vegans are also taking over social media through hashtags, and Instagram in particular is full of various recipes shared by users, offering new and delicious ways to enjoy certain foods, cruelty free. Even on Twitter, vegan users are dedicated to spreading awareness, and Tuesday evenings between 7-8pm UK time are reserved for #veganhour. Large brands have been known to get involved with the trending topic, with major nationwide supermarkets using the opportunity to plug new vegan products.

There are more dedicated vegan businesses

With the rising number of vegans comes a rising number of entrepreneurs eager to grow their plant-based businesses. Now, it’s becoming easier than ever to shop vegan with dedicated brands cropping up in most supermarkets, as well as food markets, such as Hackney Downs vegan market, which takes place every Saturday in East London.

Restaurants and cafes are increasingly having to up their vegan game in order to feed the growing number of vegans around the UK, and many chain establishments are creating their own vegan friendly menus. Wagamamas, Pizza Hut, and Zizzi are just some of the businesses that offer customers a vegan menu in the UK, while a large number of vegan cafes and restaurants are gaining popularity across the country. A second branch of Temple of Seitan, for example, recently opened in London’s Camden following the success of the Hackney branch.

With the growing range of vegan options available in supermarkets, restaurants, and cafes around the country, it’s becoming easier than ever to make the cruelty-free switch. Whether this is for health reasons or simply to live more ethically, it’s clear to see that veganism isn’t just a fad.

Featured Image from Shutterstock

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