2021 was a big year for veganism in the UK and globally. And judging by the promising response to Veganuary this year, the rise of the movement for culinary, social, and agricultural change is set to continue into 2022 and beyond. What’s more, the responses from retail giants and entrepreneurs will continue to make it easier for people to switch to a plant-based diet.
We’ve rounded up the most important veganism facts and statistics for the UK as more Brits make the decision to go vegan in 2022.
Record-Breaking Veganism Sign-Ups
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Brits sign up for the Veganuary campaign – a pledge to embrace plant-based diets for a month.
According to the Guardian, a record 500,000 people, of whom 125,000 were based in the UK, took the 2021 Veganuary pledge to eat only plant-based food in January. That figure was up by 100,000 from January 2020, and double the number of people who signed up for Veganuary in 2019. By the end of January 2022, the movement expects to surpass 2 million participants. A poll of 2079 UK adults by YouGov showed that around 4% were hoping to give Veganuary a go in 2022, suggesting that a total of 2.7 million people would join this year.
In recent years, however, it’s not just individuals who are getting into the vegan spirit. The beginning of 2021 saw major supermarket brands and other businesses doing even more to cater to the growing number of Brits who have turned their back on animal products. This January, companies like Harrods, Superdrug and Volkswagen UK have joined the Veganuary “workplace challenge” to show their support for a plant-based lifestyle.
Pre-2020 the food industry was already shifting more towards plant-based options: in 2019 roughly one quarter of food products introduced in the UK was vegan, as opposed to one in six in 2018.
Aldi, Asda, and Iceland published detailed vegan recipe and product pages on their websites to promote a more sustainable way of eating. In 2021 Marks & Spencer also created a 31-day vegan meal plan, while Tesco ran an advertising campaign to promote Veganuary on radio and television. Veganuary’s Toni Vernelli spoke of how the Aldi website features a message which says that cutting down on or totally avoiding animal products demonstrates a commitment to make a difference to the planet.
Many companies are cashing in on the growing concern about climate change and global warming. Launching vegetarian and vegan products has become the norm for food outlets and supermarkets – an essential way of attracting consumers while doing their bit for the environment.
Vegan Takeaway Orders Skyrocket
It’s not just supermarkets that are seeing a demand for vegan options; food delivery services like Deliveroo are noticing a steadily increasing demand from customers for vegan dishes.
In 2021 the UK-based delivery service saw the number of vegan restaurants on its app more than double since the previous year, with 12 000 restaurants offering vegan-friendly options. The most vegan orders in 2020 were placed in Brighton, Bristol, London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. In 2021, Deliveroo experienced a massive increase of vegan orders – up 105% from 2020. This time around Brighton, Bristol and Leeds were the areas where vegan choices were the most popular.
A year ago VegNews reported that in the first week of 2021, at the beginning of Veganuary, searches for “vegan” food on Deliveroo spiked by 153% compared to the previous month. Many Deliveroo partners have added special vegan options to their menus, from Wagamama’s vegan sticky ribs to Majestic Wine’s vegan wine options.
One example of veganism’s growing popularity is the launch of the “McPlant” burger by McDonald’s: a vegan-friendly patty, complete with vegan cheese and cheese sauce. The fast food outlet has introduced this meat-free option in many UK outlets after trialling it in select locations in Scandinavia.
The burger itself is Beyond Meat; a plant-based product containing pea protein that is also Kosher and gluten-free. The cheese and sauce – McDonald’s first vegan mayonnaise alternative – are also made with pea protein. McDonald’s has stated that they taste exactly like “the real thing”. Going one step further, the company has promised that McPlant burgers will be prepared in a separate area, away from non-vegan meals.
UK’s Meat-Free Market
Research on plant-based meat alternatives conducted by investment bank UBS in 2019 indicated rising interest in vegan lifestyle choices. Veganuary was introduced in 2014, and since then it has grown in leaps and bounds. From 2014 to 2019, UK’s vegan community swelled to four times its original size. The increased interest in plant-free living is also in keeping with some of what are predicted to be the biggest vegan food trends in 2022.
UBS’ research found that the number of people who tried plant-based meat alternatives increased from 48% to 53% between March and November the previous year. Of those who tried plant-based alternatives, approximately half said that they would continue to eat them at least once a week.
The bank’s Andrew Stott said the 2019 survey also revealed why some consumers are not happy to switch to an entirely plant-based diet just yet. He explained that 59% of respondents who were not willing to try plant-based meat substitutes did not think they would taste good, 29% said plant-based alternatives were too expensive, and 37% objected to the highly processed nature of the products.
Even so, more than half of respondents agreed that plant-based alternatives were the environmentally friendlier and healthier option. UBS surveyed 3,000 consumers in the UK, Germany, and the US.
Veganism is said to be most popular among younger generations. Food Revolution Network believes this is partly due to their increased availability of information via the Internet about where their food comes from and how it’s made.
As encouraging as many of these stats are, 2022 is not likely to be the year in which Britain goes 100% vegan. British Nutrition Foundation and YouGov research conducted in 2020 found that 61% of Brits were unlikely to switch to a plant-based diet in 2021. Of course, that simply may be because they haven’t been exposed to what are predicted to be the big vegan food trends of 2022. 2021 saw many new vegan options being launched, and it’s a certainty that this year will be even better.
Last Year’s Buffet: Top Vegan Food Trends In 2021
The last few years have seen the launch of various vegan food products as well as all sorts of culinary innovations by creative cooks. In their 2020 year-end wrap-up, Vegan Food And Living reckoned that 2021 would see a continuation of vegan-friendly products and a lot more variety.
Vegan Food And Living’s food forecast says that 2022 will be no different. In fact, the options for folks who are committed to a plant-based diet are going to get even more exciting.
But how did 2021 really live up to expectations? Taking a look back, some of the top trends the magazine predicted for 2021 were:
- Vegan butchers – 2020 saw the launch of Rudy’s Vegan Butchers in London. The establishment looks very much like a traditional butcher’s shop, minus the carcases and animal meat. Instead, its counters and fridges are packed with plant-based meat substitutes. Not to be outdone, Asda started trialling a vegan butcher’s counter at its Watford store in January 2021 – Veganuary, to be exact.
- Vegan egg replacements – Aquafaba has been the vegan go-to egg replacement over the past few years. One of the predicted food trends for 2021 was egg replacements, such as the liquid egg replacement launched by Crack’d in 2020. Singaporean and French scientists also unveiled an egg replacement that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
- Vegan sweets – Vegan Food And Living also predicted at the end of 2020 that more and more major confectionery brands would release vegan sweets in 2021. According to the magazine, vegan chocolate recipe internet searches increased by 31% in 2020.
- Vegan chicken replacement – Many plant-based meat alternatives were created as substitutes for red meat. Very little attention was paid to replacements for chicken in 2019 or 2020, but it seemed likely that this would change in 2021. Since then, we have indeed seen the launch of vegan alternatives to chicken by KFC, Marks & Spencer, Subway, Papa John’s, and Nando’s.
Mushrooms also became an increasingly popular ingredient in vegan “meat” products in 2021: another way of packing protein into plant-based food without relying only on soya.
Moving Forward: Top Vegan Food Trends Predicted For 2022
Society is becoming more and more open to a plant-based diet, pushing companies to develop newer and tastier vegan products. In previous years there has been a heavy emphasis on trying to replicate meats like chicken and beef, in flavour and texture. The hundreds of products that have already been unveiled have satisfied many vegan diners, but there is obviously room for improvement.
One corner of the market yet to be explored is a vegan replacement for fish and seafood. That looks set to change, however, as vegans will soon be able to tuck into a plant-based version of fish and chips (as well as calamari, tuna and salmon).
Some of the top trends predicted to occur this year are:
- Jackfruit – Many people have never even heard of jackfruit, but it looks set to become one of the most popular meat alternatives around. The plant is grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas like Brazil, Central and East Africa and Southeast Asia, and has been used to replicate pork, as well as other meats. Some brands have already introduced products containing jackfruit and it’s very probable that its use will continue to rise in 2022.
- Potato milk – By now everyone knows about plant-based milk. Coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, soya milk… the list goes on. A relative newcomer to the market, though, is potato milk. Once you get past the old jokes about “milking potatoes”, it’s clear that opting for potato milk is one of the best things you can do for the environment. In the UK alone 5.1 million potatoes are thrown out every year – a shocking figure when so many people don’t have food security. Potato milk isn’t available everywhere yet but companies like DUG are launching new dairy alternatives regularly. Their products are soya- and gluten-free.
- Vegan eggs – Plant-based egg replacements will once again make an appearance on the vegan “buffet” this year. People are starting to realise that you don’t need an egg from a chicken in order to bake show-stopping cakes – as was shown on a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off. 2022 will see UK vegans being treated to even more plant-based options, as Just Egg, an American company, launches a range of vegan products across the whole of Europe. Apart from Just Egg, Oggs – another plant-based egg company – has stepped up and plans to partner with Bella Italia to serve up vegan-friendly carbonara and to-die-for chocolate desserts.
- Vegan chocolate – Speaking of chocolate, vegans with a sweet tooth are in luck this year, as many well-known brands are cottoning on to the demand for plant-based alternatives. Nestlé, for example, has just launched their first vegan-friendly KitKat, which contains rice-based milk instead of dairy and costs £1. Cadbury, Lindt and Hershey’s are following close behind.
- Vegan baked goods – Recent years have shown that plant-based cakes and bakes are becoming increasingly popular. The introduction of new and improved vegan egg replacements, plant-based milk and butter has also made cooking and baking easier for those who enjoy it as a hobby.
- Vegan pork – Many non-vegans have said that the only thing standing between them and a totally plant-based diet is bacon. In 2022, however, this excuse isn’t going to cut it any more. For years we’ve had vegan burgers, schnitzels and sausages, but no decent substitute for pork in general – bacon, ham or gammon, for example. This year UK citizens can look forward to at least one pork-replacement product: Asian brand OmniPork is teaming up with restaurants to launch a range of eats. They’re not the only ones taking advantage of the gap in the market – Sainsbury made history this Christmas when they stocked shelves with a plant-based gammon called “Plant Pioneers No Gammon with Maple Glaze”.
Is Veganuary A Fad Diet?
Circling back to the beginning for a moment, it’s important to dispel the belief that going vegan – and committing to Veganuary in particular – is yet another fad. The Chair and co-founder of Veganuary, Matthew Glover, has revealed that his movement has surpassed Christmas as one of the largest retail events in the world. On top of that, the phenomenal growth of Veganuary has pushed companies and restaurants to make a concerted effort when it comes to offering plant-based options.
Many Veganuary participants are now finding that switching to a more sustainable diet isn’t as hard as it used to be. Cutting out meat and other animal products is no longer an insurmountable task, as many mainstream supermarkets and eateries are launching new vegan products month after month. Instead of feeling a sense of self-denial, new vegans can choose from a large range of meat-free foods.
It is abundantly clear that Veganuary is here for good – and has the potential to outgrow society’s current meat-eating contingent.
Veganism In The UK 2020-2021 – Stats At A Glance
- A record half a million Brits signed up to Veganuary in 2021
- Deliveroo’s vegan orders spiked by 163% in 2020
- 7.2 million British adults currently follow a meat-free diet
- 13 million Brits will be meat-free by the end of the year
- The number of vegans in the UK has increased by 445,428 people (40%) over the past 12 months.
- Vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population in 2025
- If the 2 million people who intend to become vegan this year do so, the number of vegans will increase by 132%.
- In 2020, The Grocer reported 62% of adults in the UK had purchased plant milk.
- 10% of British children aged eight to 16 are vegan or vegetarian
- The number of vegan residents in UK care homes has almost trebled in the five years to 2019
- 19% of people check if their toiletries are tested on animals
- Generation Z (aged 18 -23) are currently the most meat-free generation
- In 2020, 262,000 more men than women didn’t consume meat (7.2 million vs 7 million)
- Those who eat meat spend £645 extra a year on food, compared to those on a meat-free diet
- 50% of Brits said they know someone who is vegan
- Sainsbury’s sales of its vegan cheeses surpassed the company’s predictions by 300% in 2020
- The global vegan meat market is expected to be worth $8.3 billion by 2025
Veganism in the UK in 2022 – facts and figures
(Source: Vegan Food and Living)
- One third of survey respondents from the UK indicated they wanted to change to a plant-based diet in 2022
- 38% of these respondents believe they’ll fail before the end of January
- 25% of Brits wanting to go vegan see it as a trend and believe it will be good for their online personality
- On the other hand, 30% said they want to go plant-based just to try something new
- Around two thirds of respondents said they have already tried to be vegan and 63% admitted that they try to go plant-based as a New Year’s resolution
- Most participants in the survey wanted to become vegan to save the planet from Global Warming and Climate Change
- Over 50% believed that a plant-based diet is healthier than being an omnivore
Some points to ponder
(Sources: Vegan Food and Living and The Goodness Project)
- September 2021 saw the very first vegan contestant taking part in The Great British Bake Off
- By 2020 every top British supermarket had launched their own brand of vegan products
- >In 2020, Waterstones book shop counted a total of more than 10000 books containing the word “vegan” – two years previously that number was 944
- Studies in the past two years have suggested that following a plant-based diet may lessen the risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19
The takeaway (pun intended) from these statistics is that a plant-based diet is becoming more and more mainstream.
As we learn more about the devastation caused by the meat and dairy industry, it will become harder to justify consuming beef burgers, milk chocolate, pork bangers and chicken nuggets. Veganuary is just the tip of the iceberg – one that is in no danger of melting.
In the mood for some plant-based cuisine? Have a look at our list of vegetarian restaurant gift vouchers for an unforgettable meat-free dining experience.
Jump To a Section Below
- Record-Breaking Veganism Sign-Ups
- Vegan Takeaway Orders Skyrocket
- UK’s Meat-Free Market
- Last Year’s Buffet: Top Vegan Food Trends In 2021
- Moving Forward: Top Vegan Food Trends Predicted For 2022
- Is Veganuary A Fad Diet?
- Veganism In The UK 2020-2021 – Stats At A Glance
- Veganism in the UK in 2022 – facts and figures
- Some points to ponder
- The Takeaway