Vegan revolution

Every vegan convert is a potential new customer to care for – but so is the army of flexitarians.


Are you geared up for Veganuary? January 2019 saw a quarter of a million people sign up at veganuary.com and there’s little doubt the numbers will soar past that in 2020.

According to Ubamarket research across more than 2,000 UK adults, Brits spend £25 a week on vegetarian and vegan products, totalling a staggering £1.3bn a year. Furthermore:

  • 36% of meat-eaters, representing 18.97m Brits, are buying vegetarian and vegan specialist products
  • 23% – 11.77m – are buying gluten-free meals despite not having any intolerance
  • 31% of Brits – 16.08m – are eating more vegetarian and vegan meals than ever before
  • 32% of Brits – 16.72m – are consciously trying to eat less meat for reasons ranging from their health to the environmental impact of the agriculture industry
  • 26% of Brits said that trends like Veganuary and Sugar Awareness Week are shaping their shopping habits.

This year has seen a huge rise in people choosing a flexitarian diet with millions adopting eating habits that reduce the amount of meat, dairy and eggs they eat. What factors are influencing this change?

  • Health issues relating to the consumption of meat – a diet high in red meat has been proven to increase the levels of TMAO, a compound known to be linked to heart disease and strokes.
  • Environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry – a significantly larger proportion of water and land is required compared to that needed to produce fruits and vegetables, contributing to deforestation and causing 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Ethical ramifications of eating meat – while many people argue that eating meat is essential for a healthy diet, consumers are increasingly considering the morality of the meat industry in its current form.

How vegan are supplements?

Independent health food stores are a haven for vegans where they are understood and their needs immediately catered for. But the reality is that the majority of your customers are probably flexitarians who ‘get’ the importance of cutting back on animal products, understand the health benefits of plant-based, and absolutely care for the planet’s future.

“Although the vegan market is an important category for health stores to fill, the majority of customers are flexitarians who are very passionate about their own health and that of the planet,” says Viridian MD Cheryl Thallon. “And many of them will want to have a choice of quality fish oils, for example.

“We took a decision some time ago that to go completely vegan [as a supplier of supplements] wouldn’t be best for our customers, mainly because we offer fish oils which incidentally are a world first in that they are organically sourced. We also currently preserve a couple of supplements with honey but will be replacing this with organic glycerine in 2020.”

BetterYou concurs. Marketing Director Jen Julian says: “With the growth of veganism set to continue, we understand the importance of having a product range that’s inclusive – ensuring everyone is able to supplement essential nutrients for optimal health.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve been working to reformulate our transdermal magnesium range to ensure that not only are the products completely palm-derivative free, they’re vegan-friendly too, and we anticipate that by summer 2020 over 70% of our entire commercial range will be suitable for vegans.”

Our understanding is that most supplement companies supplying the independent health food trade are following a similar policy. The vegan movement, health stores and their suppliers generally are allies.

And this alliance is committed to helping those on a plant-based diet to understand the importance of supplementing certain nutrients such as B12 which can be a common deficiency for vegans – it’s needed to help release energy from food, make red blood cells and help the nervous system, even prevent folate deficiency anaemia.

Simon Bandy, General Manager of Veganicity, says: “With a rise in numbers of people choosing to be vegan, it’s crucial to ensure diets are nutritionally complete. The simplest way for many is to opt for a daily multi-vitamin if they think they need a top up.”

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