Animal Welfare is the main reason people go vegan, reports survey

Vegan Food & Living publishes its Big Vegan Survey 2019

Vegan Food & Living has published its Big Vegan Survey 2019. The survey was designed to find out more about what motivates UK vegans: what they like to eat and determine what they find enjoyable or frustrating in the shopping experience. The results will be used to help supermarkets and brands improve their offerings so that ultimately more of what vegans want will eventually find its way onto High Street shelves.

The 8,300 responses were analysed by MSS Research, an independent market research agency. Each person entering the survey gave themselves a chance to stay at the now-iconic Saorsa 1875, the first 100% vegan hotel experience at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands.

The survey was overwhelmingly filled out by females (85%) and by a demographic aged 25-54 (64%). 

Motivation for transition is changing

Unsurprisingly, 75% of the people who classified themselves as either vegan or plant-based had only adopted the lifestyle in the past 5 years. The biggest reason for doing so was a concern for animal welfare with 71% stating that this was their main reason for turning vegan. 

The survey noted, however, that the motivation for turning vegan was changing to some degree. Of the people who have decided to turn vegan in the past year, 39% said that environmental concerns were the biggest motivation whereas of those who had turned vegan in the past six months, health was cited as the biggest factor. So the reasons for transitioning to veganism are fluid, to say the least.  

One interesting conclusion is a certain amount of ambiguity felt around the terms “vegan” and the phrase “plant-based” which has come to prominence more recently. Of the people who have transitioned in the past twelve months, 34% identify as “plant-based” whereas for those who have adopted the lifestyle for over 5 years only 12% do so. 

It seems, therefore, that the term “vegan” is slowly becoming “plant-based”. Does this matter? Some feel that the term “plant-based” is less confrontational and perhaps, therefore, an easier label to carry. We certainly appear to be in the midst of a change of lexicon.

In terms of a favourite supermarket, Tesco and Sainsbury were in a dead heat. This makes for interesting reading as both a determined to take a leadership role in plant-based foods, having both recently announced a big expansion of products to cater to this new market. Vegans do predominantly do their weekly shopping in a supermarket (80%) while a mere 11% buy online from a supermarket.

Holland & Barrett received good reviews as does the Vegan Kind Supermarket. 

Wagamama is an overwhelming favourite

Wagamama was given a strong recommendation for eating out with 54% of respondents saying that it was their first choice for vegan options when eating out. 

Vegans do not generally like the chains with 57% saying that they would never eat at KFC even if they had more vegan options, while the figures for McDonald’s and Nando’s are 43% and 36% respectively.

Current vegan food products have a mixed review. 84% consider there to be a good selection of plant milks available, but only 22% think that vegan cheese is any good. Undoubtedly there is a gap in the market place for great vegan cheese. 

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Richard Williams

Richard Williams, a graduate of the University of Worcester in Entrepreneurship, has experience in promoting cruelty-free products recognised by PETA. He is creating Coworking Locations with vegan-friendly gourmet food in an area suited to yogis and collaborative vegan lifestyle brands. He is also working in the Vegan and Yoga Vacation sector. Contact:
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