The number of vegans in the UK exploded in 2023, research suggests, with 1.1 million more people living a fully animal-free lifestyle than a year earlier.
As awareness of the issues of meat and dairy grows, plant-based foods have become more accessible and convenient. This drives a self-reinforcing cycle where more vegans demand more vegan food and more vegan food pushes more people to be vegan.
The research is part of an annual survey by finder.com, a personal finance comparison site. It suggests there are now 2.5 million vegans in the UK, equivalent to 4.7 percent of the total population.
Louise Bastock, editor at finder.com, told Plant Based News (PBN): “The number of vegans in the UK has surged by an impressive 1.1 million since the start of 2023, according to our annual research. While there were reports of a dip in sales of meat substitutes in 2023, our survey suggests that this hasn’t impacted the number of people identifying as vegan.”
One million new vegans in a year
Meat consumption dropped to record lows last year, with more people switching away from animal products.
As the climate crisis worsens, the benefits of shifting away from meat and dairy are becoming clearer to many. Meanwhile, the health benefits of veganism have been well documented in the last year, with notable studies published on type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, awareness is growing of the risks to human health of antibiotic use on animal farms.
More growth to come in plant-based eating
A further two million people intend to adopt a plant-based diet in 2024, the study claims.
When including vegetarianism and other non-meat diets, the study suggests that almost one in five people in the UK is now leaving meat entirely off their plate. This figure is expected to increase by 6.4 million in 2024.
The move towards veganism comes as more younger people are avoiding meat. Generation Z is at the forefront of the dietary shift; more than half of Gen Z could be following a meat-free diet by 2025, the study projects.
Bastock offered some advice to those considering a switch to veganism. “There are plenty of delicious meat-free meals that you can make without spending a fortune on branded substitutes,” she told PBN. Whole foods like beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, grains, and vegetables can offer an economical and healthy way to transition to eat a plant-based diet.
“If you do want to try a meat substitute, keep an eye out for any deals, such as discounts with your supermarket loyalty card. To save money, you can also buy some items in bulk, such as grains and dry foods.”