Food industries are changing attitudes towards Veganism

By Josh Wright | @joshuawright098

Sub-edited by Jasmine Wing, Founding Editor and Zahida Khan Lifestyle Editor

Today, more people than ever are vegan or vegetarian. Is it just a fashionable fad, or is humanity slowly undergoing a revolution?

In 2017, the popular bakery chain Greggs’ offered a low-calorie, and incidentally vegan, Mexican Bean Wrap. In response, animal rights organisation PETA congratulated them, offering a petition requesting a vegan version of a sausage roll. 20,000 signatures later, and in December 2018, Greggs’ announced a meat-free version of the dish for the New Year, as a limited supply for half of its stores.

At first, it was seen as a publicity stunt, coinciding Veganuary (a popular national campaign to encourage eating vegan for January). However, it was anything but: The product is now available in every store, becoming their fastest selling product since 2013, becoming more popular than its predecessor. It has even improved Greggs’ stock price.

Greggs’ is not the only chain diversifying their menus: KFC has been exploring vegetarian versions of its products since June 2018; McDonald’s has been selling vegetarian Happy Meals with a pepper-based wrap (alongside an adult version), and is trialling vegan nuggets and burgers in Europe; Burger King has a vegetarian Whopper, based on the ‘Impossible Foods’ burger, being tested in certain American stores; and Subway has also modified their Veggie Patty to a vegan recipe.

Almost every major supermarket has its own vegetarian ranges, with an increasing number having vegan items included in allergen-based ‘free-from’ labels or even dedicated vegan ranges.

Whether these products sell well or are just a token gesture to appease a minority of customers, is a matter for the companies themselves. It’s impossible to know the true percentage of vegans and vegetarians, but recent polls vary from 1% and 7% to 3% and 14% respectively. Veganism isn’t taking over the world (yet), but as many more people become vegan, the meat industry is starting to respond.

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