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Veganuary, the campaign that encourages people to try a vegan diet for 31 days, announced this week that it had reached a significant milestone: more than one million people have officially taken part in the movement since it first began in 2014.
From its humble beginnings with husband and wife team Matthew and Jane Glover in Yorkshire, Veganuary has grown into a global phenomenon that’s attracted the likes of TV presenter Jasmine Harman, actor Peter Egan, wildlife presenter Chris Packham, rock legend Brian May and Dragons’ Den ‘dragon’ Deborah Meaden.
But the number of people who have taken part without officially signing up to Veganuary could be even ten times greater, according to research Veganuary cites from Kantar. Founder Matthew claims that Veganuary is now a “bigger feature in the retail calendar than Christmas”.
He says the vegan trend is set to grow exponentially: “One million official Veganuary participants in just seven years is a huge achievement, but the momentum behind the plant-based revolution will see us hit two million in no time.”
Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s international head of communications, says fine food and drink retailers should look to fill their shelves with exciting vegan options by keeping an eye out for newly launched products ahead of the next campaign in January 2021. In 2020, over 1,200 vegan products and menus launched for the cause.
“The rising popularity of vegan food provides an opportunity for independent retailers to stock more exclusive vegan products, such as artisanal nut-based cheeses, as well as products from new vegan companies that are just launching,” Toni told Speciality Food. “These types of items generate a lot of excitement, and January is when there is the biggest audience experimenting with plant-based food.”
Large supermarkets have certainly taken note of the popularity of vegan products. Whole Foods Market recently revealed it is on the hunt for new vegan brands to add to its shelves in 2021 due to continually rising demand.
2021 could be a landmark year for the vegan diet. This year, 400,000 people signed up for Veganuary – a huge jump from the 250,000 recorded in 2019. But 2021 is set to be even bigger, in part due to the impact the pandemic has had on consumers’ diets.
Research from Mintel discovered that for a quarter of Brits aged between 21 to 30, the pandemic made a vegan diet more appealing. Motivating factors behind the vegan trend vary, with some seeking out the health benefits of a plant-based diet and others more interested in reducing their impact on the environment, but for 2021 Toni says Veganuary will give participants the chance to feel they’re doing good. “At a time when many feel helpless about the state of the world, Veganuary offers people a way to take positive action. Reaching the one million milestone in the middle of this pandemic shows it’s exactly what many people need right now,” she says.
With an average of half of Veganuary participants deciding to stick with a vegan diet permanently, next year could prove to be a pivotal moment for the plant-based trend. “That is the real impact of our campaign – creating a long-term demand for plant-based food and an incentive for businesses to change,” Toni says.
Read more about how the fine food sector can capitalise on Veganuary 2021 here.