A survey conducted by The Vegan Society has found that 1 in 5 Brits have cut down on meat consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey also found 15% have reduced their dairy/egg intake over the lockdown period. There could be many reasons, from health to environmental responsibility to animal cruelty. But the fact is that more people are trying a vegan diet, and they like it.
1 in 5 Brits have tried vegan diet
These figures highlight how pressures on supermarkets and consumers alike are changing buying behaviour towards a more ethical, compassionate alternative. According to the survey, 43% have chosen meat-free product due to health, environmental or animal rights reasons. 41% of those who have incremented their vegan consume, said it was because they did not found their favourite product in the supermarket shelves.
The cost of meat products was also noted by respondents. 15% opted for alternatives due to the price of meat in the supermarkets, highlighting how financial uncertainty contribute towards a shift to plant-based alternatives.
Brits who are reducing their meat and dairy consumption have tried new alternatives. They said they wouldn’t have done it otherwise. The most popular has been almond milk (42%), meat alternatives such as vegan sausages and burgers (38%), soya milk (36%). People have bought also some legumes such as chickpeas or lentils that they don usually do.
Matt Turner, a spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said: “It’s no surprise that many consumers have shifted to plant-based alternatives. Not after the success of Veganuary and many new vegan products hitting the shelves in supermarkets. Whether that be for convenience, cost, or concern for their own wellbeing, the environment and the rights of animals».
For many consumers, is not only the taste but the nutritive value, too. They argue the lack of proteins and other nutrients. Charlotte Cliffe, a nutritionist from the vegan health supplements Vivo Life said that a plant-based diet, well planned, is a complete rich in antioxidants and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Some nutrients are utterly important for some sectors of the population such as kids and elderly. «For children, protein is a key ingredient for growth and development, but this is easily achieved on a vegan diet. Calcium is also essential for their bone development and to prevent osteoporosis. This is easily found in fortified milk and cereals».
Nutritionists also mention B12, from the soil. It is one of which traditionally has been associated with meats. However, animals produce this vitamin from their diet, naturally from the grass. But, when the livestock is from farms, it does get the B12 from supplements; therefore the meat lover gets a second-hand-processed vitamin.
«Hundreds of years ago no one had to worry about their B12 intake because the food they ate would naturally contain B12. But due to industrial farming methods, heavy pesticide use and excessive sanitation B12 can no longer be found in our food supply. This is why we must all supplement with B12».
Veganism is all about balance
In cities, and every day more, vegan restaurants are gaining its space. Holly Fitzgerald, Head Chef at Allotment Vegan restaurant in Manchester centre says that the key in a complete diest is the balance.
«If done correctly, (vegan diet has) health benefits such as less risk of certain types of cancer, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood sugar levels and improved kidney function. Not to mention that many people claim to experience other perks including clearer skin, a more regular system and even improved mental health». Usually, this also means reduced intake of highly processed, or ultra-processed foods, and saturated fats.
However, she warns that all that glitters is not gold. People may shift to a vegan diet for many reasons; health, free animal cruelty, or responsible with the environment. But if they do not do the homework before the shift it may have side effects such as fatigue.
Regarding hospitality business, times upcoming will be hard. With the lockdown, all restaurants have been closed, and many will not be able to recover. It is time to support local and independent business. Most of the restaurants have vegan and vegetarian options in their menus.
Although in the past vegan places were seen as elitist, it is crucial to recall their benefits, besides the mentioned: «Veganism is really all about respect and should be inclusive of everyone».
Plus, they are delicious!