Fewer vegans than we thought, research claims

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Just one: the percentage of the population actually consuming a vegan diet
Just one: the percentage of the population actually consuming a vegan diet

Related tags: Vegan, Vegetarianism

New research from Kantar UK has suggested the number of vegans in the UK is significantly lower than thought, with only 3% defining themselves as such.

When looking at an average person’s food diary for a week, the percentage of people actually living a vegan lifestyle fell to less than 1% of the population.

While the diet that sees diners shun all animal-derived foods as well as honey and sometimes avocados has become popular among celebrities, the majority of consumers asked by Kantar said they were in fact meat eaters (78%).

The figures could call into question the increasing time and effort chefs and chef directors have put into developing vegan offerings over the past 12 months.

In addition, the rise of ‘Veganuary’, where people live a vegan lifestyle for one month, may not have been as mammoth as previously thought, since 5% of those asked by the research organisation said they were attempting the lifestyle for the month.

‘Where is veganism most popular’

“If you look at where veganism is most popular, the social buzz and celebrity endorsements start to make sense: Kantar Worldpanel found that Millennials make up over one third of all vegans,” said Kantar.

“Going deeper, they find that it is female Millennials who are most engaged - outnumbering their male counterparts by 5:1.

“Their engagement sees huge over-indexes, standing at 274 in comparison to the total population and 134 in comparison to total vegetarians.”

Delving deeper into the data, Kantar also discovered that vegans were more likely to live alone, in London or the south of England and were likely not to have children, “largely showing vegans to have this strong group identity”.

The majority of adults, however, were making other ‘positive’ impacts on their lives including taking part in alcohol-free ‘Dry January’ (17%); going to the gym more (15%); giving up chocolate (13%): and spending less money (37%).

There is also evidence to suggest that more consumers are living semi-vegan lifestyles, with meat-free dinner consumption rising by 150m to 4.4bn in 2018.

Provide vegan options

Plant-based meal occasions have also grown by more than a third (37%) in the past four years and are eaten by 10% of the population, showing that making an effort to provide vegan options will appeal to a significant chunk of consumers.

“These consumers are also very engaged with the lifestyle and are choosing to eat a plant-based meals three times a week, on average. As this group of consumers grows, it is important to consider the motivations of the consumer,” said Kantar.

“Crucially, most plant-based consumers are not vegans, but are choosing to somewhat reduce their meat and dairy intake, with 92% of plant-based meals being eaten by non-vegans.”

Meanwhile, recent research carried out by the Meatless Farm Co showed that 41% of Brits were likely to consider a plant-based or meat alternative​ when dining out.

A third of those asked also wanted to see all menu items with meat-free alternatives available.

Related topics: News