2018 was a big year for vegan brands and the vegan movement altogether. So much has happened in the last 12 months, it's hard to keep track of it.
More and more people are embracing a vegan lifestyle, or simply dabbing into it as a result of feeling healthier, happier and supporting our planet. The Vegan Society found that in 2018 there were 600,000 vegans in Great Britain or 1.16% of the population.
Being vegan is all about being part of a community, something I know very well from the research I covered in my book, Make an Impact, uncovering the six habits of highly influential people. One of those habits is, namely, nurturing and participating in a community with a mission that goes beyond the individual, which is something most vegans can easily relate to.
As Veganuary is in full swing, it's time to look back at how 2018 has changed the way we perceive ‘vegan’ as a term, as well as a movement.
In 2017, Veganuary launched the first ever vegan advertising campaign on the London Underground.
Veganuary went strong in 2018: the campaign grew by 183% this year, with 168,542 people signing up to go vegan. As Veganuary presents itself as a way to encourage people to embrace veganism, it was exciting to see a staggering 28,645 participants identified as vegan – many of whom were new to the diet and signed up to receive extra support.
It's also interesting to see how more and more people are joining Veganuary as a way to support the environment, as co-founder of Oumph! Anna-Kajsa Lidell reminded us in an article on the Health Bloggers Community: "We believe that in order to create a positive change we all need to work together to create a more sustainable future. We work with research projects, food scientists, WWF [World Wide Fund For Nature] and many other organisations and partners who are also progressive in driving the green protein shift forward."
Small businesses are also harnessing the power of vegan communities to support their growth. A great example is the team at The Vegan Kind, which fully crowdfunded their expansion this November. The team found a warehouse to relocate to expand their business, and have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help them raise the capital that they need to make it happen: "We’ve been on an incredible journey since then, quickly moving operations out of our living room into a small unit, then into a bigger unit, growing our amazing team, and of course both leaving our own careers to dedicate ourselves to this business and movement that we are deeply passionate about and love so much. We’ve done it all without any investment, by being careful with our money, being careful with our decisions and only employing the absolute best, dedicated and committed team that we could find."
As well as the Vegan Kind, other exciting projects have been popping up, including The Plant-Based Academy. The academy will be part of a plant-based cafe and deli called the Plant Hub they hope to open in Mare Street in East London soon, which will also serve as a shared space, community incubator and research centre.
The Plant Academy is designed to inspire the next generation of vegan meal creators in courses given by themselves and "classically trained chefs, professional nutritionists, and influential plant-based leaders."
The Kickstarter campaign has been launched to fund the purchase of equipment for the Academy, such as fridges and freezers, culinary workstations, chopping boards and the sharp implements to do the chopping.
Pledge levels start at just £15 for a tour of the Academy and a first look at the Plant Hub during its soft launch next month. Also on offer is a food-focused masterclass for £135 or more, a special Veganuary series with tips and recipes throughout January 2019 for £240 or more, and various workshops and courses.
As Veganism expands as a movement, so do ideas and projects, and this is where the community's help is needed.
Vegan campaigns and stunts are not just something small businesses are embracing: 2018 also saw the rise of veganism in the high street. Las Iguanas, Zizzi, Pizza Express, The Handmade Burger Company, YO! Sushi and everyone's favourite Wagamama have added vegan options to their menus, while Pret A Manger explored new avenues with its meat and fish-free outlets.
Vegan is also taking over delivery services, like Deliveroo. The number of completely vegan restaurants in the service has risen by 128% in the last year, according to the delivery outlet.
The research also revealed that more than 5,000 dishes are now available on the platform nationwide, including top sellers like Vegatsu Curry from Wagamama (National), Vegan Giardiniera from Pizza Express (National), and Pasta Arrabbiata from Vapiano (Manchester).
These are just a few of the exciting projects, campaigns, and milestones from the vegan world over the last year - who knows what will happen next!
Fab Giovanetti is the founder of the Health Bloggers Community and Whole Influence, as well as the author of Make an Impact: the Six Habits of Highly Influential People, out now and available on Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and good online retailers.