Major food chains are now offering vegan options due to soaring demand. Veganism is, without doubt, a growing global trend as people choose to eat a plant-based diet for both health and ethical reasons. Responding to demand from vegans, top supermarkets including the UK’s Tescos and Sainsbury’s are launching vegan plant-based meals. Goodfellas is bringing out a frozen vegan pizza, and Pizza Express and Pizza Hut have been offering vegan cheese since last year. In the US, you can find vegan options at many famous chains including Starbucks, Subway, and Taco Bell.

There’s even an app called Vegan Xpress that searches for nearby vegan menus.

Vegan health benefits

Awareness about the health benefits is a key driver in the public’s switch to vegan. New York’s Icahn School of Medicine studied 15,569 participants and discovered that people who ate a plant-based vegan diet were 42 percent less likely to suffer from heart failure. A UK study also concluded that a vegan diet slashes the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today reports that “a vegan diet can help to protect bone and heart health, and lower the risk of cancer.”

And the doctors seem to agree – a number of US hospitals are removing processed meat from their menus and adding healthy vegan meals.

Veganism in the media

The documentaries Cowspiracy and What the health, directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, are also raising awareness of veganism – not only the health benefits but also the ethics of eating a plant-based diet. Google searches for the term ‘vegan’ reached a record high in the UK in 2017, and documentaries and films such as Okja are helping persuade the public to quit meat and animal products.

The animal charity PETA reported a 65 percent increase in Google searches for ‘vegan’ for six weeks after Okja was released.

Famous vegans include tennis star Novak Djokovic, boxing heavyweight David Haye, and singers Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande. But it’s not only celebrities – the number of people choosing veganism in the UK alone has risen 360 per cent in the decade leading up to 2016, according to a report by The Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine.

How many people are choosing veganism?

The global Veganuary movement encourages people to try veganism for January. “We’ve had 165,000 people sign up this year. We had 60,000 people take part last year,” Veganuary’s spokesperson said. The top 10 countries of participants include the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

Further research released on 1 November – World Vegan Day 2017 – shows that over 50 percent of adults in the UK are now buying vegan products.

The Vegan Society has reported that in the UK, one in five people have cut down on the amount of meat they buy and 13 percent of people surveyed opt for meat- and dairy-free choices when dining out.

The veganism trend is sweeping America too, with one report claiming that six percent of US citizens now call themselves vegan – an enormous increase of 600 percent over three years. The ‘Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017’ report, researched by Global Data says that in 2014 only one percent of Americans described themselves as the vegan.

The question being addressed now, is not ‘Why go vegan?’, but rather ‘Why not?’. The Vegan Society has commissioned first-of-its-kind research into what stops people becoming vegan. The results will be published at the end of 2018. Vegan academic, Dr Richard Twine, one of the professors working on the study, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to enter into dialogue with non-vegans on the subject of veganism, to better understand what veganism means to them and to explore this regarding social differences such as gender and age.

We hope we can make a further contribution through this work to the growing literature on sustainable transition.”

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