'Animal wellbeing is more important to me' - vegan diet rising in popularity

More and more people are turning to a plant-based or vegan lifestyle.

The number of people adopting a vegan lifestyle is growing and according to a new survey, one in four people introduced significant changes to their diet during the pandemic.

Whether it was cutting out animal products entirely or reducing the amount of meat they eat, The Vegan Society has revealed that 25% of people are now consuming less overall.

The charity believes there are several plausible explanations for this unstoppable rise in veganism and plant-based lifestyles.

According to the survey results, people had more time to experiment with recipes during lockdown and now enjoy diets much less centred around meat and dairy.

Others took the time to find out more about where their food comes from and are becoming increasingly interested in the health and wellbeing benefits of eating less meat.

Environmental concerns were also listed by the charity, with more people wanting to reduce their impact on the planet.

Ben now has his own vegetable patch.

Ben Thatcher, from Pill in North Somerset, became a vegan earlier this year.

"I gave up red meat first, then ate chicken and fish for about a year," he said.

"I was looking into how we procure food, how the process works, and some of the outcomes of eating large-scale factory farmed animals.

"Even though there are good farms that look after animals well, there was always the slaughter aspect of it that put me off.

"The more I looked into that aspect of it, is what triggered me to stop eating it. It just became natural not to eat it anymore.

Corinne set up her plant-based catering and events company last year. Credit: Corinne Lynn

Corinne Lynn owns a plant-based catering and events company from her home in Kingsbridge, South Devon.

She stopped consuming animal products nearly six years ago and started her business, Roots and Thyme, last year.

"Ethically, I didn't agree with it," she said.

"It was about five, nearly six years ago now that I changed personally, but I started up my business in November because I saw such a big growth in it."

Corinne is one of many business owners now taking advantage of the rapid growth of veganism, and there is pressure on big companies to adapt to the changes too.

The founder of Heck Sausages, Andrew Keeble, first built his business making meat sausages but has recently expanded into the plant-based market.

"The whole vegetarian sector is in all sorts of disarray because everyone's trying to please everybody," he explained.

"The market is really, really small. At the moment, it's around 10% of our turnover - we'd like to get that to 20%.

"It's about 10% of our business and the actual vegetarian sausage market is only 1% - it's tiny and everyone is trying to jump into the same market."

Louisianna Waring, from The Vegan Society, said: “It’s fantastic to see that not only are people consciously cutting back on animal products, but that this trend has continued over the last twelve months.

"It’s no surprise that the pandemic has inspired so many consumers to make the switch to plant-based alternatives and adopt a more planet-friendly diet.

“Covid-19 has certainly made people think twice about what they’re eating and where it’s coming from. This is highlighted by the large number of people cutting down on animal products because of their own health concerns.”