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The Rise of Veganism and Plant-Based Diets Signals Boost for Fresh Produce Sales

It’s clear that attitudes towards veganism are changing. Many different people believe in veganism for differing reasons. But whether it be for health, an ethical stance on the treatment of animals and obtainment of animal by-products, or for the environment (some consider the production of non-animal stock is much kinder to the world), or an incorporation of vegan principles into their diet a few days a week in the way of a detox, all agree that veganism is catching on.

According to The Vegan Society, 1% of the population of Great Britain follow a strict vegan diet and this has gained traction ‘hugely’ in the past few years.

“People are slowly realising that vegan food is varied, creative and delicious – as well as becoming more aware of the benefits for the planet, our health, and the animals,” explains Elena Orde, communications officer at The Vegan Society and The Vegan editor.

“Fresh fruit and vegetables often make up a higher proportion of a vegan’s diet, so this is essential. Vegans cook with a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses, so the opportunities are incredibly varied. Vegan cheese has now become much more widely available, so this is being used more and more in vegan cooking. Vegans have the same nutritional needs as non-vegans, and luckily we can meet all of these needs by eating a varied diet.”

“Restaurants seem to be slowly catching on to the vegan trend,” says Orde. “Certain chains, such as Handmade Burger, Zizzi and Wetherspoons are adding vegan options onto their menus , and are seeing great results.”

According to Rob Trounce of vegan and plant-based marketing strategy consultancy Walden, Zizzi is one restaurant that is playing the trend right, by introducing optional vegan cheese for their standard pizzas, and seeing sales boom. “Stereotypes paint a picture of vegans eating all kinds of odd foods,” he points out. “In reality, most vegans just want to be normal.”

It looks like the next five years are going to be exciting for veganism, with many more fresh produce-focused supply opportunities to come. “What we would like to see is veganism becoming as recognised and understood as vegetarianism, with a range of vegan options on every menu,” adds Orde.

And this looks likely. “Plant-based eating shows no signs of stopping, and the industry shows huge growth potential with the likes of Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, even Tyson Foods now investing in plant-based products and innovation,” adds Trounce. “Restaurants are, for the most part, failing to capitalise on this trend. But, this is only going to get more popular. Unlike other diets there’s a trifecta of factors – animal welfare, personal health, and environment. Restaurants and suppliers that take notice now will gain a first-mover advantage in a growing market.”

Credit: Produce Business UK

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