At the end of 2018, 300,000 people pledged to go vegan for the month of January, creating a race for grocers to keep up with the growing demand. Supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer’s and Waitrose launched new vegan ranges to satisfy the appetite of the environment-conscious market.
Veganuary has come at a time where many people are understanding the huge impact that eating meat has on the environment.
As the world population rises and more people continue to eat meat-rich diets, scientists warn this will result in further damage to the environment through greenhouse gases, deforestation and water shortages; prompting many to change their outlook on meat.
While not everyone has taken the plunge to go vegan, the number of vegetarians and flexitarians are at an all-time high. A recent YouGov study found that more than half of people (56%) no longer view meat as an essential ingredient to their meal, which means many are significantly reducing their meat consumption.
Supermarkets have had to keep up with the demand of vegan alternatives that people will be looking for, to supplement their meals.
For example, Marks & Spencer’s new ‘Plant Kitchen’ is a 60-product, plant-based range that came after the company found one in five of its customer households now cook for a flexitarian or vegetarian. The range includes a wide range of meals, snacks and even vegan comfort food such as cauliflower popcorn and dirty vegan fries.
Another supermarket who have taken more innovative steps towards the production of vegan food is Waitrose, who launched vegan ‘fishless’ fingers, made from breaded seaweed tofu with a crispy coating and "subtle fish flavour". When brands take the time to consider that their vegan customers are looking for more than just a soybean burger, they have an opportunity to create something that’s completely different which will generate considerable interest.
However, other brands miss the mark, notably, Tesco’s launch of a plant-based burger that physically “bleeds”. The question arises whether those who have given up meat, particularly because of animal exploitation, would really want to see their burger oozing blood-like liquid? We think not.
It’s not just supermarkets that embraced Veganuary this year. Greggs’ vegan sausage roll had taken social media by storm. The product was so successful that stores across the UK sold out because the bakery couldn't keep up with the demand. Other brands such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s have joined in on the fun through the launch of their vegan pizzas. The huge amount of media coverage these brands receive simply raises awareness for why people are choosing to go vegan (and makes the rest of us feel guilty for not doing so).
A decade ago there had simply not been a demand for vegan food, but now that the population’s opinions are altering, that has completely changed. More people than ever before are adopting a vegan diet, and not just for Veganuary. Grocers and brands must keep up with the demands for vegan food by creating innovative products that can be enjoyed by everybody. After all, when there’s more choice of delicious and environmentally-friendly vegan food, people are more likely to continue on their journey of leading a vegan lifestyle.