getty veganuary

If you wandered into your local supermarket, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a huge percentage of consumers in the UK are now vegan. That’s because you can’t move for signage communicating ‘meat-free this’ and ‘plant-based that’.

Yes, more people may be trying vegan products but the actual percentage of people who follow a truly vegan diet remains low. It’s hard to find cold, hard data when it comes to the number of people who count themselves as vegan – the last official number said it was somewhere in the region of 600,000. Obviously that’s quite a lot of people however when you consider the UK has over 67 million people it’s really small fry as a percentage (0.9%).

That said, it’s Veganuary and the vegan products keep on coming. Greggs, a brand that’s see on forecourts up and down the land, has added to its hugely successful Vegan Sausage Roll with the launch of a Vegan Sausage Breakfast Roll, a Vegan Cajun Chicken-Free Roll and Vegan Chicken-Free Goujons.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s McPlant Burger has been such a huge success for the fast food giant that it has just launched a Double McPlant containing two of the Beyond Meat patties instead of one. Over at Burger King, they have a new Plant-Based Bacon King which contains a plant-based Whopper patty layered with slices of vegan ‘cheeze’ and vegan ‘bakon’. Apparently coffee chain Starbucks and pizza chain Domino’s have both worked with the Vegetarian Butcher, which supplies Burger King, to come up with new vegan lines too.

Starbucks has five new vegan items including the No’Beef & Red Onion Focaccia sandwich. For breakfast, it has the new Plant-Based Breakfast Wrap filled with tofu scramble, Lincolnshire-style sausage and spinach. And Domino’s latest pizza to get a vegan makeover is the American Hot which has specially created spicy pepperoni from The Vegetarian Butcher, topped with red onions and green jalapeños and vegan mozzarella cheese.

In the grocery aisle, Mars Chocolate Drinks & Treats has just launched Maltesers Vegan Instant hot drink. The company says the value of instant vegan hot chocolate has trebled over the last year as more people are seeking plant-based options as part of a vegan or flexitarian diet. I am not questioning their claim but bet that value is small when compared with ‘normal’ instant hot chocolate.

Despite shelves heaving with vegan products it seems many Brits are confused about what vegans can and can’t eat. Delivery app Deliveroo surveyed 2,000 Brits to find out what they thought being vegan means. The survey found that 18% of people think that vegans can only eat fruit and vegetables, while 8% said that vegans couldn’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, but could eat fish. It also found that Gen X (35-44 year-olds) knew the most about vegan alternatives (51%), while the Post War Generation knew the least (17.1%).

To be fair, I don’t know a lot about vegan alternatives except for the fact that when I go to pick an item off the shelves and it says ‘plant-based’, it goes straight back. To me, a pea protein Magnum is plain wrong but what do I know? By all means explore the vegan rush for shelf space but remember there are more of us non-vegans out there!