The Evolution of Veganism in 2022 and 2023

2022 marked another year of exponentially growing interest in veganism and plant-based eating in the UK and around the world. Veganuary 2023 broke all records in the campaign’s 10th year. For this year’s event, 706,965 people officially signed up from nearly every country in the world, with the exception of Vatican City and North Korea. A 2022 YouGov survey also found that 9% of all Brits have now participated in a Veganuary campaign since its inception in 2014. Commenting on this year’s campaign, Veganuary’s Head of Communications, Toni Vernelli, said, “As people become more aware of the incredible impact our food choices have on the health of our planet, attitudes towards veganism are changing everywhere, and Veganuary’s friendly, non-judgemental, just-give-it-a-go-for-a-month-and-see-what-you-think approach has undoubtedly played an instrumental role in this shift”.

Demand for vegan food rising in spite of the soaring cost of living

Eating a healthy wholefood plant-based diet has often been seen as an expensive option compared to the more traditional western way of eating. The current cost of living crisis has effectively tested this hypothesis. With inflation, the cost of meat and dairy is at an all-time high, leading many to reduce their consumption of these products in favour of plant-based alternatives such as grains, legumes, and pulses. A study in mid-2022 confirmed that around one-quarter of British people are reducing how much meat they purchase as part of budgeting efforts to combat the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Restaurants lowering costs by using plants

The rising price of meat also caused many restaurants across the UK to adopt vegan menus in 2022 as a way of cutting costs but also to cater for the rising demand for plant-based options. According to research firm Lumina Intelligence, “We’re seeing trends around healthier living and around eating less meat, and restaurants are tapping into that…. “The benefit is they can manage costs at the same time because they’re saving on meat and saving on portion sizes”. As such, the fact that many customers are actively seeking plant-based restaurant food is enabling establishments struggling with rising prices to stay open.

Vegan food trends for 2023

If you have visited a supermarket in the UK recently, you will no doubt have noticed that the development of new plant-based products has continued to gather pace. And it appears that some new, and in some cases rather odd sounding, plant-based food items may be about to hit our shelves. Waitrose, for example, is now stocking DUG Barista Potato M*lk, which is apparently low in sugar and saturated fat. Will potato milk take over oat, almond, and the other staple plant-based milks in the months to come? Only time will tell.

Another growing vegan food trend we are seeing more of is “clean-label meat alternatives”. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the ingredients in plant-based meat alternatives and are looking for less processed foods that have no artificial colours/flavours, have a small number of natural raw ingredients, are non-GMO, and are free of preservatives. Products that contain mushrooms and jackfruit that mimic the texture of meat but without the heavy processing are likely to become more popular in 2023, according to research.

Final words

As more investment is ploughed into the ever-growing vegan food sector, we can expect plant-based food to evolve even further, catering for those transitioning away from diets containing meat and dairy and for those who are looking for wholesome clean plant-based food. In these financially stretched times, the move to a plant-based diet offers benefits for your health and your wallet.

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