In the month that saw more sausage roll small talk than a village hall buffet, Mother investigates the rise of the veganism in the UK – and the benefits brought about by the 3.5 million people that choose to live without animal-based products.
Last Thursday saw the Twittersphere blow up, with the news that the pastry magicians at Greggs have created a 100% vegan friendly sausage roll. The announcement, as Twitter announcements tend to, quickly became modern day Marmite – in that you either love it, or you hate it so much you show your distaste on national television and sick it up in a bucket. Thanks to his outburst (literally), Piers Morgan has now overtaken Cross-fitters and vegans themselves, as the person we least want to be stuck with at a party.
We may not be proud, but along with singing in the mirror and pushing down all of the colours in that multi-pen at once, every one of us has made a dig at vegans at least once in our lifetime. MasterChef critic William Sitwell did it back in December, except his “dig” saw his affiliation with Waitrose disappear faster than a buttery biscuit base in front of Gregg Wallace. With his ill-judged comments, it seems he had underestimated the public influence of MyWaitrose cardholders and very much put his foot in it. Sadly, this was made even worse by the fact he was wearing calfskin loafers at the time.
But, despite the opinions of Piers and William, veganism has a place. And that place is growing. Judging by the rise of green signage and floral fonts in Brick Lane alone, it’s unsurprising this market for meat-free foods rose to £572 million in 2017 and is projected to reach £658 million by 2021. This rise boils down to more than just a few factors – with animal welfare and environment the top two rationales. Not to mention those cutting down on meat consumption for health and weight management.
The benefits of going vegan for one’s health are said to be vast, and in some cases have reported to have links with lower blood pressure and heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and cancers. Once you become vegan, you can expect to be happier, have balanced hormones and be prone to fewer diseases, too.
A huge tangible flag in the mound for veganism, though, is in the reduction of our carbon footprint. Hailed as the “single biggest way to reduce environmental impact” (by 75%, no less), the loss of such impact would help to free up wild land lost to agriculture; one of the primary causes of mass wildlife extinction.
That said, supply does equal demand – Mexico now makes more money from exporting avocados than it does from petroleum, and has started illegal deforestation to grow more avocado trees. What it all boils down to, is space and money. Per year, a vegan can be fed on 1/6 of an acre of land, while a meat eater requires 18 times this amount. And out of all the countries, unsurprisingly, the U.S. would save the most by curbing their animal-based intake. In fact, worldwide, if everyone were to be vegan by 2050, the projected savings would top $1636.5 Billion Dollars. With that kind of money, the world would be your oyster… which would be just fantastically ironic.
But whilst the whole world turning vegan in 30 years seems unlikely, celebrity endorsements are slowly getting us closer, manoeuvring this trend from mocked to mainstream. There are now over 57 million #vegan tags on Instagram, NFL’s Tom Brady has declared his affiliation with the plant-based diet, and David Haye is now less Hayemaker and more Hay-eater. The endorsements don’t stop at sports either – it was also reported that Beyoncé and Jay–Z tried a vegan diet for just 22 days. We’d love to say that they were just not that Crazy in Love with it. But that could well be libellous.