Regardless of your own lifestyle choices, it is impossible to deny that the vegan community is booming, and growing exponentially.
I was recently invited along to an event led by food industry specialists and plant-based supporters 'HiLo' & 'More than Carrots'.
The focus of the evening was to openly discuss the plant-based shift which is taking place, and the fact that, lets face it; it's pretty impossible to ignore.
You only have to tune into social media, news and TV to see the latest updates on the benefits of a plant-based/vegan lifestyle now backed by countless celebrities concerned with, potentially the career-boosting opportunities but, as the debate evolves, the conversation is predominiatly focused on farming methods, environmental, health and animal welfare concerns.
The event encouraged healthy conversations between vegans, carnivores, vegetarians, flexitarians and all of the people representing the many varying and faceted grey areas in between. What unfolded from the open discussion in the room?
We are all interested in the debate
It's affecting the entire planet and its beings
We - at the very least, need to do something about our current farming methods before the planet is left with no food, water or other vital natural resources we, as humans, seem to have taken for granted until our dying planet has caused us to sit up and listen.
Now more than ever, we need to embrace the plant-based community. No, the vegans are not taking over, but we're making an undeniable dent. You only have to take a look at the growing community of eateries I have now added into my 'Food Finder' to see how this has grown in the last 3 months since I first began building it. What started as around 100 sites in London alone is now becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with, as recommendations from friends come flooding into my inbox(es).
Restauranteurs - it is now not enough that we simply pop a token side salad option onto the menu for our plant-based friends. It's not imaginative, slightly insulting and says more about your restaurant than you think. There is too much competition, customers can eat anywhere and if necessary, will visit your neighbour down the street and their 'Charred cauliflower steak with madeira Raisins (actual amazing vegan meal I ate in a restaurant recently).
Cauliflower Steak...tasty, inventive and a surprising option for a mainstream kitchen
Lets look at some numbers.
Nearly 5% of the UK population now consider themselves vegetarian – up from around 4% three years ago.
Retailers and food producers are racing to meet demand: vegan foods accounted for 9% of all new food products launched in the UK last year, up from 3% in 2012, according to Mintel
There are an estimated 3 million vegans in the UK alone, not including vegan/plant-based tourists visiting us.
Large brands follow trends. Brands such as; Itsu, Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Wagamama, Carluccio's, Pizza Hut and Ask Italian (to name a few) - all of these chain giants are jumping on the vegan explosion - proving that the lifestyle is most definitely not a 'fad' and worth investing in
Global plant-based milk market is set to rise to $22bn by 2022, the dairy industry has responded defensively attempting to ban calling non-dairy milk 'milk' at all. Dairy farm closures are a huge threat
US Meat Corporation 'Tyson' buys 5% stake in a plant-based business
Plant-based food sales has risen to 1,500% (Ocado)
Google Trends, is a great tool, I check key search terms regularly to ensure my own business marketing copy is factual, relevant and up to date. I was surprised to see the marginal difference between global dietary search terms;
*Accurate as of 1st Nov 2017
Blue = Vegan
Red = Paleo
Yellow = Keto
Green = Clean Eating
Purple = Gluten Free
Let's summarise like this; nobody is crowbarring you into becoming a vegan. But since you're reading this (thank you), I am presenting a few (of many) facts to clear up a few of the 'why' and 'what' questions surrounding plant-based/vegan lifestyles and just how heavily the food industry must focus on this growing market.
More Than Carrots
Google Trends UK