Why vegans are on the rise

20 April 2017 by
First published: 11 July 2016

Noticing more kale and quinoa salads on your timeline? WHL finds out why vegans are on the rise…

A new study by The Vegan Society (in partnership with Vegan Life magazine) has revealed that there are now over half a million vegans in Britain. For some this may not come as too much of a surprise; for others it’s a huge departure from previous statistics 10 years ago, which indicated that there were a mere 150,000 vegans in Britain. This equates to an increase of over 350 per cent, making veganism one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements. ‘To have over half a million vegans in Britain is fantastic,’ says Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society. ‘More people than ever before are acting upon the health and environmental benefits of veganism, and finding out what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries and deciding they do not want to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals.’ But what’s caused such substantial and rapid growth? Why – and how – has veganism shed its ‘hippie’ skin and become a movement that is so increasingly popular?


The younger generation

The study showed that close to half of all vegans were in the 15-34 age category, compared with just 14 per cent over 65. This proves that the movement is being driven by the younger generation; evidence to support even greater growth in the future. Why could this be? With a wider awareness of nutrition and animal agriculture, a lot of younger people are both interested and invested in making more ethical and compassionate choices. Popularity could also be rooted in the number of athletes and celebrities thriving on a vegan diet. Popular athletes such as Venus and Serena Williams and MMA champ Jake Shields alongside celebs like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Sia have all contributed towards a positive vegan movement.


It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle

Despite being a fairly restrictive diet, veganism is easier than ever nowadays. Once upon a time, menu offerings were lacking and supermarket produce was bland, boring and unimaginative – not to mention hard to come by. Nowadays though, you’ll rarely find a restaurant where the vegan/vegetarian option doesn’t sound equally as appetising as its meaty counterpart; wholefood shops and vegan supermarkets are ever multiplying; ingredients and meal options are colourful and varied. Vegan Life magazine publishing director Keith Coomber agreed: ‘The public perception of veganism is changing fast. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible – walk into any supermarket and you’re greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and other vegan-friendly products.’


Growing coverage

Behind-the-scenes footage, pro-vegan propaganda and general media coverage on the realities of animal agriculture have no-doubt also contributed to an increase in veganism. Documentaries such as Vegucated, Earthlings and Cowspiracy, for example, are eye-opening and harrowing and make it extremely hard to turn your back on the issue. They depict chickens stuffed into overcrowded pens and animals killed inhumanely and unnecessarily – the sad realities and consequences of animal agriculture – alongside shocking graphs and statistics and thus, see the alternative – veganism or vegetarianism – gaining prominence.


Social media

As with all things, we move in trends and it’s safe to say we’re certainly caught up in the latest one. But whereas most health trends get annoying by the 35th Instagram post, this one has traction. Social media, as ever, has proved a powerful medium in spreading the vegan message quicker, easier and further than ever before. Appealing and downright-delicious vegan recipes dominate Instagram, vegan bloggers and vloggers promote a plant-based diet as the reason for their toned tum and spot-free skin, YouTubers and ‘influencers’ portray a positively enviable lifestyle: the vegan movement has been made desirable.


Society is more health-conscious

As the health movement grows, so does veganism. It’s a natural progression: the health and wellbeing industry is now estimated to be worth $277 billion and our society is incredibly health- and fitness-led. With an increased awareness of nutrition, people are naturally looking to their diet for answers – and for many, this leads to veganism.


‘Going vegan is the best thing any individual can do for the animals, the planet and your health,’ says Jasmijn. ‘What are you waiting for?’. You can try going vegan with the 30 Day Vegan Pledge. Sign up for free at vegansociety.com/pledge and receive daily emails of advice, info and lots of great recipes.