There are now over half a million vegans in Britain, according to new research that highlights how many people avoid food derived from animals in the UK.
The research, commissioned by The Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life magazine, found at least 542,000 people in Britain are now following a vegan diet.
This is an increase of over 350% over the past decade, making veganism one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle movements.
The study, carried out by researchers Ipsos MORI, surveyed almost 10,000 people over the age of 15 across England, Scotland and Wales – the biggest ever poll quantifying the vegan community.
During the study nearly half of vegetarians who are not vegan said they would like to reduce their consumption of dietary animal products.
This equates to 521,000 people across Britain, meaning there could soon be in more than one million vegans in total.
According to the researchers, the vegan 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%) compared to just 14% who are over 65 – evidence to support even greater growth in the future.
Jasmijn De Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society said the reasons for the rise of veganism are numerous.
She said: “The positive portrayal in the media has contributed to its changing image; documentaries on the shocking realities and consequences of animal agriculture have gained prominence; delicious-looking vegan recipes have multiplied online and on social media as society becomes more health-conscious; and top vegan athletes keep proving that you can be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet.”
The study also found that 3.25% of the population, around 1.68 million people, are either vegetarian or vegan, more than 850,000 of whom also avoid leather, wool and other animal products.
The vast majority of vegans live in urban or suburban areas (88%) compared with rural areas (12%) and this is reflected in London, where 22% of all vegans in Britain live – more than any other region.
“To have over half a million vegans in Britain is fantastic,” said De Boo.
“More people than ever are now 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.”
Vegan Life magazine publishing director Keith Coomber added: “The public perception of veganism is changing fast. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible – you can walk into any supermarket and be confronted 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 continue.”