Sunday, May 26News For London

Mainstream Vegan: UK’s economy becomes greener

It’s official. UK lactose intolerants are cheering and hipsters are more mainstream than ever. Dairy-free milks have been added for the first time ever to the inflation basket. The results published by the Office for National Statistics included soya and almond milk to a list which the main purpose is to serve as a reference of the actual consumer trends. The Office and several analysts point out that this may have happened due to the recent growth of “free-from” diets such as Veganism.

A new wave of millennials addicted to new trends and worried about their health have pushed these products up to the top of the list. Every day we see in supermarkets how new meat-free, gluten-free or dairy-free options appear on the shelves, on most occasions, at a high value. This can be explained as a generational change which in fact has promoted also a change in the economy.

So Veganism is taking over thanks to young people. But how does it work in economic terms?

The “Hipster” inflation basket

Every year consumers options are measured to keep up with the latest trends. Surveys are taken and as a result, some items are added to the basket and some are taken away. These statistics will be used by the Bank of England to calculate the price inflation of the items. And it has always been quite a concern among consumers as the term inflation means that the price of some goods will rise.


Does this mean new Vegans shall fear a rise in their already expensive (over £1.5 per litre) almond, oat, rice or soya milk? Not really. Dairy-free milks have been added to the list for a reason: the number of consumers of this good is higher than a year ago and apart from being now represented in the consumer list, this means that the demand is higher. According to the market laws, when the demand of a good or service is higher, the competition between brands is also bigger to reach that sector. Consequently, the prices will drop as Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society explains:

“We are hoping that the increasing demand for non-dairy milks will encourage competition and lead to lower prices, ultimately benefiting the customer. It’s reassuring to see these products in the inflation basket for the first time, and our guess is that in the future there will be even more vegan items that make it, reflecting the nation’s changing shopping habits and more compassionate choices”

So why are these products regularly more expensive? And does it mean Vegan and Free-from trends are only available for middle-class millennials who can afford it?

A change of mind in a generation has proven that it can lead to a potential change in the economy. The addition of certain items to the inflation basket is just the beginning and the millennials have in their hands the perfect tool, the internet and social media. The Vegan Society see this as a crucial factor for the development of the vegan movement:

“Our research last year found that 42% of British vegans are between 15 and 34 years old – a group that is very social media savvy and can thus promote veganism better and in a more ‘trendy’ way”

2017: The Year of the Vegan

The predictions for this year are that we will see even more free-from items added to our everyday shopping list. The “V” logo that marks an item as suitable for vegan has grown for the past year and there are, at the moment, over 24,000 items registered, 800 companies participating and many more who have applied to get the certification.

To see the huge evolution the V+ movement we just need to look at the number of the British founded charity, Veganuary. The promoters of this idea challenge everyone who wants to take part to change their diets to completely vegan during January.  The number of participants around the world has drastically increased from 3,000 participants in 2014 to over 60,000 people last January 2017. The results in the UK are also overwhelming with almost 40,000 “official sign-ups”.

The result of 2017 survey also shown that 88% of the participants were women compared with a 10% men.  We can assume this is due to weight concerns and dieting, however, figures expose the main reason to change to a vegan diet is a common concern for animals welfare.

 Healthy and Sweet: Chanel’s vegan cakes

One of the main reasons consumers nowadays start to transition into a plant base diet is health. The clean eating craze is everywhere and this has developed into the creation of thousands of new converts to plant-base. Veganuary confirms so: Over 19,000 participants who took part all over the world in the last campaign in January did it because of health concerns and weight loss. UK Vegans confirm it:

“The image of veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history, while shedding some tired old stereotypes. People now closely associate veganism with health, fitness and wellbeing when the opposite was perhaps true a few years ago. It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible”

For some people like Chanel, it was a question of life or death.

So this year it is most likely we will see new products as the Vegan community is working hard to inspire new people to join their lifestyle. The results of a survey taken by Westminster World show that non-vegans see it as impossible to give up mostly dairy products, cheese in particular, surprisingly over meat. This could be because young people find them more affordable than poultry or beef.

The same young vegan millennials who have made possible the inclusion of dairy-free milks in the inflation basket are now exploring the idea of vegan fast food or plant base junk food. The blogger Fat Gay Vegan has recently introduced the Hackney Downs Vegan Market in East London. It will take part on the third weekend of the next 4 months and people can expect not only healthy food but also, some examples of the trendiest vegan spots across London which attract even non-vegan eaters.

Which item will be next year introduced into the inflation basket thanks to social trends?  And also let us know if it is on your mind to try move into a plant-base diet.