The number of people following a vegan diet in Britain has increased by 350 per cent in ten years, making veganism one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle movements.

There are over half a million vegans in Britain, new research commissioned by The Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life magazine, has found. At least 542,000 people in Britain are now following a vegan diet and never consume any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey, up from the last estimate of 150,000 ten years ago.

The study, carried out by leading researchers Ipsos MORI, surveyed almost 10,000 people aged 15 or over across England, Scotland and Wales – the biggest ever poll quantifying the vegan community.

“To have over half a million vegans in Britain is fantastic. More people than ever before are acting upon the health and environmental benefits of veganism, and finding out what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries and deciding they do not want to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals,” said Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society.

The movement is being driven by young people making more ethical and compassionate choices – close to half of all vegans are in the 15-34 age category (42 per cent) compared to just 14 per cent who are over 65 – evidence to support even greater growth in the future.

The study also found that 3.25 per cent of the population, around 1.68 million people, are either vegetarian or vegan. More than 860,000 of all vegetarians and vegans also avoid all non-dietary animal products such as leather and wool.

The vast majority of vegans live in urban or suburban areas (88 per cent) compared with rural areas (12 per cent) and this is reflected in London, where 22 per cent of all vegans in Britain live – more than any other region.

Vegan Life magazine publishing director Keith Coomber said: “The public perception of veganism is changing fast. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible – walk into any supermarket and you’re greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and other vegan-friendly products.

“As consumers become more savvy about the reality of the farming industry, and the health implications of meat and dairy products, this boom will only continue.”

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