Is veganism on the rise?

The UK is embracing a meat-free diet as plant-based eating goes mainstream.

More than half of UK adults (56 per cent) are now “adopting vegan buying behaviours and Britain is more vegan-friendly than ever before”, according to The Vegan Society. Once a rare choice, veganism – and vegetarianism – are becoming mainstream.

“There is a huge focus on veganism at the moment, it’s boomed in the last couple of years,” says Flic Everett, editor of Vegan Living magazine. “People who never previously considered veganism are now turning to a plant-based diet, in part because it’s so much easier nowadays and several studies have shown the health benefits.”

Flic believes that people have started buying more vegan foods because they’re more visible. “Now, mainstream publications are including vegan recipes, restaurants are adding vegan options to the menus – and, most crucially,” she adds, “products like plant milks and cheeses, which used to only be available in niche health food stores, can be bought in the supermarket as part of the weekly shop. There’s a much higher awareness of vegan options, and with frozen meals and ready meals increasingly available, it’s no longer a difficult diet to follow.”

Waitrose increased its vegan and vegetarian range by 60% in June, while Iceland claims its ‘No Bull’ burger is as good as a meat version. Other companies such as Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger now stock vegan ranges, and Pizza Hut, Pizza Express and Zizzi all offer vegan pizzas.

More people are also adopting ‘flexitarianism’ – mixing a plant-based diet with an omnivorous one. Says Flic: “Ideas like ‘meat-free Mondays’ all help, when people aren’t ready to give up all meat or dairy. Often, it means they’ll try something new, and find that veganism isn’t as tricky or tasteless as they feared.” 

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