A record number of people took part in Veganuary 2020, official figures have shown, as new vegan products flooded Britain’s high streets.
Over 400,000 Brits sampled the vegan lifestyle this year, up 150,000 compared to the 250,000 in 2019 and far exceeding the target of 350,000.
The participants included rock legend Brian May, former Dragon Deborah Meadan and actor Rebecca Callard, all of whom enjoyed the month so much they are going to make permanent diet changes.
In an Instagram post on 2nd Feb, Brian May said: “VEGANUARY!!! Yes! It’s done – and I loved it. Not a morsel of meat or fish or dairy passed my lips. It was so much easier than I expected and gave me so much. So I am now plunging in for a Vegan February!!! I certainly don’t feel like giving up this new journey of discovery. Who’s with me?”
“Best food I’ve eaten this month”
Rebecca Callard echoed his feelings: “I’ve had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten this month – notably Mildreds and the Greggs Vegan Steak Bake.
“I’m a pretty awful cook but even I’ve managed to knock up some decent stuff in the kitchen – there’s such a variety available everywhere.
“If it’s not even putting me out then there’s definitely no question of not sticking to an option that affects the world around me and our future.”
And Deborah Meaden tweeted on 1st Feb: “So.. @veganuary completed and I’ve loved every meal.
“Working out what happens next but for now apparently I’m a Veggan (our hens eggs) x”
New plant-based products
Hundreds of new plant-based products and menu items were also launched this January – including the first Veganuary offerings from fast-food giants KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King – with sales of many exceeding all expectations.
KFC sold one million vegan burgers in the first month they were on sale – equivalent to one being sold every three seconds since the launch on 2nd January.
And according to Deliveroo, orders of vegan dishes almost doubled when comparing the number in January 2019 and January 2020, increasing by 78 per cent.
A spokesperson said: “As January comes to a close, Deliveroo has seen its highest ever demand for vegan and plant-based food which figures given Veganuary has smashed its numbers for 2020.
“Many of our partners have introduced new vegan dishes to their roster which are now some of the most popular items on their menu, proving veganism is much more than just a fad.”
Not just a fad
Pizza Hut Restaurants saw similar results: “This January the number of guests trying a vegan pizza has almost doubled! (compared to pre-Veganuary).
“Additionally, guests and teams have loved the Pepperphoni so much that it will make a return to our main menu from Feb 26th.”
As did Greggs: “The launch of our Vegan Steak Bake has been a huge success, even bigger than we had originally anticipated.
“Due to the success of the launch, we’re now working on rolling the Vegan Steak Bake out to all shops as soon as we can.”
And Subway: “We’ve seen an incredible response from guests to the Meatless Meatball Marinara. People are loving the taste and have said that they are as equally delicious as the original.
“We’ve seen a phenomenal uplift in sales as a result and hope our guests continue to enjoy our meatless options now Veganuary has finished.”
Phenomenal sales uplift
Retailers also saw interest in vegan products soar.
Sales of Hellman’s Vegan Mayo saw a growth of nearly 400 per cent in Tesco during Veganuary, while M&S’ Plant Kitchen No Chicken Kiev sold at a rate of four every minute since it launched on 2nd January.
April Preston, Director of Product Development at M&S, said: “Veganism is a trend that we are absolutely loving at M&S, and as our customers continue to experiment and adopt more flexitarian diets, we too are having fun creating new products to fit within this.”
But for many businesses it was more than just a commercial endeavour as over 50 companies took part in the Veganuary Workplace Challenge, encouraging their employees to try vegan in January and providing more vegan options in the workplace.
Many business bosses led by example, personally taking up the challenge, including Jens Hofma, CEO of Pizza Hut Restaurants, and Stuart Machin, Managing Director of Food at M&S.
“Together we are making an enormous difference”
Reflecting on the 2020 campaign, Veganuary’s Head of Communications Toni Vernelli says: “With the link between animal farming and the climate crisis making headlines nearly every day we expected Veganuary 2020 to be the biggest yet, but it exceeded all of our expectations.
“We applaud everyone who took part and encourage them to continue eating vegan food as often as possible.
“And we’re grateful to all of the businesses embracing Veganuary and making it easier for more people to eat more plant-based food more often.
“Together we are making an enormous difference for animals and the planet.”
Related: Greggs staff set for £300 windfall each after vegan sausage roll feeds ‘phenomenal’ profits