Veganuary is nearly upon us – and why F&B players should heed the call
The urgent call to action marks the launch of UK-registered non-profit Veganuary’s 2020 campaign, and is backed by Hollywood actors Joaquin Phoenix, Alicia Silverstone, Mayim Bailik and Evanna Lynch.
British stars Kellie Bright, James Moore, Peter Egan, Jasmine Harman, Melody Kane, Sara Pascoe and Monami Frost are also supporting the initiative, alongside high-profile environmentalists George Monbiot, Chris Packham, Kerry McCarthy MP and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity.
Adding their names to the pledge are plant-based athletes Jason Gillespie, Leilani Munter, Dustin Watten and Anthony Mullally.
Speaking from the heart, Hollywood superstar Joaquin Phoenix said: “If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking ‘I wish there was something I could do’ – you can. Right now. Sign up to try vegan this January.”
His message is echoed by environmental journalist George Monbiot, who asserted: “If we are serious about protecting the living planet and all its inhabitants, we must accept that meat and dairy are extravagances we can no longer afford.”
Agreeing with the sentiment, Eastenders’ star, Kellie Bright stated: “My children deserve a future and so do yours. If you care about climate change, make a difference and do Veganuary.”
Companies can cash in on the Veganuary challenge
Last year, more than 500 UK businesses took part in Veganuary, while more than 200 plant-based products and menus were launched off the back of the campaign, including bakery chain Greggs’ famous vegan sausage roll, Pizza Hut’s jackfruit pizza, and Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plant Kitchen’ range.
Greggs’ CEO, Roger Whiteside, has previously attributed his company topping £1 billion turnover for the first time in March 2019 to the roaring success of its Quorn-filled roll, which launched in January. He also claims the best-selling vegan product has been instrumental in changing the perception of Greggs from “an old-fashioned bakery from the north” to a “modern food-on-the-go brand”.
Certainly, the opportunity for F&B industry players to leverage on the campaign are significant, given the growth prospects of the vegan and flexitarian segments.
There has been a 469-per-cent increase in people in the UK who are interested in veganism over the past five years, according to Ceuta Group. Meanwhile, Kandar estimates that 92 per cent of plant-based meals consumed in the UK in 2018 were actually consumed by non-vegans, with approximately 22 million people in the country now identifying as ‘flexitarian’.
In the UK alone, the vegan market was valued at £572 million in 2018, according to Mintel.
According to Ubamarket, 26 per cent of Brits said that trends like Veganuary are shaping their shopping habits. Meanwhile, Veganuary helped the UK grocery segment enjoy 1.7-per-cent growth, according to Kantar Worldpanel, who also revealed that demand for meat-free products was increasing by £30 million year-on-year.
With such promising growth prospects, and following the success of its meat-free sausage roll, there is no wonder that Greggs is currently working to develop vegan versions of all of its best-selling products, including its signature ‘steak bake’.
Promoting a planet-friendly plant-based diet
More than a quarter of a million people took part in Veganuary last year and over half a million have participated since its launch in 2014. Now, with the climate crisis making headlines almost daily, the UK-based charity is intensifying its efforts to promote a planet-friendly plant-based diet by launching high-profile Veganuary campaigns in four new countries – Germany, the US, South Africa and Chile – as well as partnering with dozens of NGOs around the world. The goal this year is a global total of 350,000 sign-ups.
“Each of us can help fight climate chaos with our fork,” stressed Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s Head of Communications. “Signing up at Veganuary.com is a fun and empowering way to tackle this serious global threat. All of our resources are completely free, friendly and supportive – so why not do your part for the planet and give it a go!”
The pinnacle of this year’s campaign will be a TV ad urging people to ‘Try vegan this January with Veganuary’ which will air in the UK, Germany, the US and Chile between Christmas and New Year. More details will be released later this month, but a teaser can be viewed here.
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