The growth of veganism; how the movement hit the mainstream

Written by YogurtTop

With more than 3.5 million Brits now identifying as vegan, it’s safe to say that the movement has come on leaps and bounds in recent years – and it’s showing no sign of slowing down.

Veganism really began to flourish in 1944, when ‘vegan godfather’, Donald Watson, a member of the Leicester Vegetarian Society, called a meeting to settle on a term for the movement. Watson took the first three and last two letters of the word ‘vegetarian’ to make ‘veg-an’ because it marked, in his words, “the beginning and end of vegetarian” – and voila, The Vegan Society was born.

Flash-forward to the present day, and veganism has skyrocketed into the mainstream, with seven percent of Brits ditching animal products and enjoying a plant-based life.

How did we get here?

Well, the 57 million #vegan posts on Instagram speak volumes for how active the vegan community are online, which has certainly helped with its growth.

I’ve found that Facebook groups, the ‘vegan Twitter’ network, vegan activists profiles, and YouTube cookery channels are integrating more and more with mainstream media. These platforms have been a fantastic source of support since I transitioned from a veggie to vegan lifestyle just over a year and a half ago. From asking for tips on how not to be *that vegan* when ordering food at restaurants, seeking advice on how to spot obscure animal ingredients in every day products, to sharing recipes and exchanging cooking methods.

I’m not ashamed to say, Google and I have become very good friends in the past year and a half – I’m not sure where I’d be without my go-to search phrases: ‘vegan food near me’, ‘is ___ vegan’ and ‘vegan fairs in Staffordshire’. It seems to be a similar story for many other new(ish) vegans too; according to Google trends, searches for “veganism” have been rising steadily since 2012 in a similar trajectory to “Instagram”.

So, is the rise of veganism online mirrored in the real world?

Samantha Calvert from The Vegan Society believes that celebrities like Beyoncé, Jay Z and Miley Cyrus, have helped to kick-start this change in perception. “[It] was suddenly being associated with the celebrities, with the successful people, with the beautiful people,” she says in an interview the BBC.

Supermarkets such as Iceland, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have seriously stuck their teeth into the vegan market too, to keep up with the increasing demand of plant-based foods. Iceland recently revealed that it’s ‘No Bull burgers’ have consistently out-sold their meaty counterparts, and sales of its vegetable-based foods have risen by 10 percent over the past year.

Also, Sainsbury’s have announced that they will be selling their plant-based ‘mock meats’ in the standard meat aisles this month – which has sparked A LOT of controversy within the vegan community. Some argue that they shouldn’t have to rummage through the meat aisles to find their plant-based foods (which I’m not particularly looking forward to). Although, there is some serious rational thinking behind this move, studies show that placing plant-based products in the meat aisle increases their sales. Meaning more meat eaters will be trying out ‘mock meats’, and therefore eating less animal products (YAY!).

Thinking of joining the #VGANG? Listen to what WILL.I.AM has to say, you won’t regret it >

Finally, if you’d like to learn about how veganism is, in part, an impressive marketing tool (it feels odd just saying that, but you can’t argue with the statistics), I’d love to have a chat with you about it. Just pop us an email over at our contact us page, or give us a call on 01543 439 239!

Catch you soon – Chloe

(Yogurt Top’s one and only vegan)



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