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Has Veganism Fallen Out of Fashion?

"Whether you’re 100% plant-based, vegan-ish, or meat-free some days, our mission is to make meat-free food so good that it can be enjoyed by everyone. Welcome to Veggie Pret. (Not just for veggies)."

Pret A Manger


Veganism seemed to have been on a rise for the last decade, with the number of people self-reporting as vegan slowly increasing year on year. This has led to many food companies investing in vegan and plant based options. Supermarkets have started selling their own plant-based lines, fast food companies have vegan options, restaurants offer whole vegan menus. Some businesses went further and opened, or converted, branches to be plant-based only. One of these businesses was Pret A Manger. However, the take away sandwich store, has now closed most of its Veggie Pret branches in the UK, with only two set to remain in London and another two UK branches being monitored.


Thankfully searches for the carnivore diet remain low

Out of the 10 Veggie Pret outlets, four have closed down and one, the Canary Wharf store, has been rebranded into a regular Pret. The branches that are being monitored, in Exmouth Market, London and Deansgate, Manchester will remain to see how high demand is in those areas. Pret A Manger gave a statement saying that, vegetarian options were "widely available" at all its stores, therefore there was no need for dedicated plant-based Pret A Manger stores.


"Over half our menu is vegetarian or vegan, with meat-free and vegan options accounting for one in three of our main meal sales."

Pret A Manger


The remaining Veggie Pret stores will serve as “innovation hubs” as they work to increase the range of vegetarian and vegan options for their menu.


"More of our customers are choosing veggie options but may not see themselves as full-time vegetarians, so all our shops will continue to offer a majority meat-free and vegan menu and our remaining Veggie Prets will continue to develop new vegan and vegetarian options to be rolled out to our classic Prets."

Pret A Manger




The Numbers

In the UK, the polling group YouGov surveys around 2000 adults every six months about their dietary preferences. The survey gives 6 options for dietary choices:

  • Meat-eater: eats meat and poultry (and does not describe as being mainly vegetarian)

  • Flexitarian: mainly vegetarian, but occasionally eat meat or fish

  • Pescetarian: eat fish but do not eat meat or poultry

  • Vegetarian: do not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, or shellfish

  • Plant-based / Vegan: do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product

  • None of these


The majority of people in the UK still eat meat

Each person surveyed is allowed only one pick out of the 6 options respondent is only allowed to pick one of the six options. 5% described themselves as vegetarian; 3% as pescetarian, and 2% as vegan. These add up to 10% – this means that 10% of British adults report that they do not eat meat, but some still eat fish. 16% of the people surveyed described themselves as being flexitarian, that they were mostly vegetarian, but occasionally ate meat or fish. Over the year covered in the chart, the number of people eating in any given way hasn't changed a great deal, however, it is notable that the number of vegetarians and vegans has decreased. At the same time, the number of people eating meat has increased.


The future looks positive

The charts above show that the number of people choosing a plant-based diet is driven, to some extent, by age, with a greater proportion of younger people saying that they do not eat animal products. These results, found in the UK are very similar to those from other countries, both in the difference in diet choices across age groups and countries as a whole. A 2022 YouGov poll of 1000 adult Americans found that 6% of American adults identified as vegetarian, and 2% as vegan. A wider poll from Ipsos Mori in 2018, that spanned 28 countries, found that 5% of respondents identified as vegetarian, 3% as vegan, and a further 3% as pescetarian. However, this is an average with some polls showing very different results for some countries, an example is India, where one in five people identified as vegetarian. Also, there is the issue of health, in some countries, Italy being one, people still believe that eating meat is healthier than a plant-based diet, 29% believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet, while 39% think that a meat based diet is the best for health.


Is Veganism Here To Stay?

Though the number of people that go vegan, that is they move to an animal free way of eating, may not increase greatly, the number of people that remain vegan will become steady and slowly increase. This will be down to younger people realising that what they eat affects their health, the climate and the planet. As older people (baby boomers) are replaced by the Gen X'ers, Millennials and Gen Z'ers the number of people eating meat, dairy and eggs will decline. Diseases like heart disease, cancers and strokes will mean an ailing population of meat eaters, it will become clear that meat, processed meat in particular, is dangerous and should not be eaten. The demand for meat and dairy has seen a decline in recent years, with governments propping up the animal agriculture industry. Many farmers are giving up farming animals altogether, changing to growing crops for humans to eat.


Any drop in numbers seen right now is just a part of the ebb and flow of trends and the affect of marketing from companies trying to make money, but veganism isn't a trend, it really is the future, for all of us.


Sources:

Google Trends

Our World In Data

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