Vegan goes mainstream

With burger empire McDonald’s introducing its meat-free McVegan option and the UK’s best-known bakery Gregg’s launching a vegan sausage roll, there’s certainly a massive change being cooked up in our kitchens.

In fact, according to The Economist, 2019 is set to be the year veganism goes mainstream, with sales of meat and dairy-free options booming in supermarkets, restaurants and cafes up and down the land.  

As is often the case, we Brits are following the Americans, who saw their sales of vegan foods in the year to June 2018 rise a whopping 10 times faster than food sales as a whole. 

Hardly surprising then, that giant food firms are now climbing on the bandwagon, creating vegan lines of their own, and buying start-up businesses.

The charity Veganuary – which promotes the idea of trying out a vegan diet throughout January – said 2019 has been its biggest year yet, with an estimated 300,000 people taking part.

No longer seen as the preserve of hippies and eccentrics, veganism is a word we’re all now seeing and hearing everywhere – in shops and restaurants, in people’s conversations on the streets, and in newspapers and magazines.

The reasons for embracing a vegan diet are as varied as the people who do it, but most will point to health reasons, concern over the environment, or issues over animal suffering.

PETA, a long-time campaign group for the ethical treatment of animals, says that the big vegan food trends to watch out for during 2019 include creamy oat milk as an alternative to almond and soy milks, and green protein sourced from peas.

Of course the first question most vegans are always asked is ‘how do you get your protein?’ and their answer could now be peas, as new ranges of vegan pea-based products from sausages to milks come on stream.

There are also growing varieties of “meat-free meat” and even “fishless seafood”, which can be found in supermarkets as well as on restaurant menus from big-namers like TGI Fridays to many of our small independent high street eateries.