Data from Google Trends shows that US searches for the term ‘vegan’ have been increasing exponentially over recent years.
Information going back to 2004 shows a steady growth until around 2015, then a sharper, but fluctuating increase until the present day.
A number of reasons have been cited for the growing interest in veganism over recent years, including increasing awareness of animal welfare and environmental issues as well as the potential health benefits.
Celebrity influence as well as the success of films including Okja and What the Health could also play a role.
The search term saw a huge spike in December 2016.
This spike coincided with – and could be related to – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics releasing a position paper summing up the health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.
The Academy – one of the most significant nutritional bodies in the world – surmised that a plant-based diet is appropriate for people at all stages of life and that it can promote human health and improve the environment.
The increase could also relate to people catering for vegan friends or family, or even considering going vegan as a New Year’s Resolution, as searches peaked at the end of the month, and the top five related search terms were all linked to food items (including mayonnaise, cookbook, and chocolate cake).
There was a huge spike in US searches for ‘vegan’ around July of 2017.
Could this be related to the release of two popular movies?
Netflix feature film Okja was released in mid-May – according to animal rights charity PETA, there was a 65 percent increase in the number of Google searches for the term ‘vegan’ in the six weeks following.
What the Health
Documentary What the Health also launched on Netflix around this time – in June.
Though it was originally released in March, many more people saw the film when it was launched on the screening platform.
The data backs this up – over the month of July 2017, ‘What the Health‘ is the second top related search topic to ‘vegan’ (with ‘shopping list’ in at number one).
Searches have dipped slightly since peaking during Summer 2017, but remain reasonably stable.
According to research released last July, vegans grew from one percent of the US population in 2014, to six percent by mid-2017.
Stats over the coming months should suggest whether this trend is set to continue upwards.