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Veganism in the UK has quadrupled in four years – but what’s behind it?

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The number of vegans in the UK has increased fourfold, from 150,000 vegans (0.25% of population) in 2014 to 600,000 (1.16%) in 2018. What’s behind this cataclysmic shift towards veganism? Ethical considerations.

FRANCESCA SPECTER: ‘Not so long ago, vegan eaters were far and few between. Figures show there were 250,000 vegans in 2006 – just 0.25% of the UK population at the time… Now, the landscape has changed drastically, and seemingly overnight. In just a four year period, the number of vegans in the UK has increased fourfold, quadrupling from 150,000 vegans (0.25% of the population) in 2014 to 600,000 (1.16%) in 2018.

Eateries which may once have posed a problem for vegan eaters, such as burger chain McDonalds and pub franchise Wetherspoons (celebrated for its hearty meat pies and bangers n’ mash) now have specific vegan options on their menus. The Economist dubbed 2019 ‘The Year of the Vegan’… Meanwhile, shares in Beyond Meat — a company which creates meat-free patties — have surged by more than 150% since the company first traded…

But what’s behind the cataclysmic shift in favour of veganism, turning it from a niche and little-celebrated lifestyle choice to a buzzword and macro-trend which only seems to be gaining momentum? Ethical considerations remain the biggest motivation for those deciding to go vegan – this is according to a 2016 survey which found these grounds motivate 80% of vegans, compared to sustainability (12%) and health (14%). However, it’s worth considering this may have shifted with our growing awareness of climate change…

While increasing numbers of people turning vegan, it’s not necessarily a lifelong decision – indeed, one US study found 84% of people who have adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet at some point in their lives go back to eating meat. For others, veganism is not currently a full-time lifestyle but something they explore for a set time period or as part of an annual initiative’SOURCE…

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