After the indulgent Christmas break many people start the New Year with great plans to eat healthily, cut out caffeine and alcohol and do more exercise. This year, a record quarter of a million people around the world signed up for the Veganuary challenge.
At Echo we monitor how the media around the world reports on food, diet and nutritional issues. It is clear there has been a step change in attitudes towards veganism. Media attention globally is up 63% in the last year - more than three times that of five years ago. Much of the interest is emanating from the UK with a disproportionately high share of mentions (23%). And, there are millions of posts, tweets, shares and likes relating to veganism on social media.
But is veganism really a healthier way to live?
A vegan diet is lower in saturated fat so is proclaimed to help shift a few pounds, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and improve digestion. Richer in antioxidants, a plant-based diet is also supposed to protect against various diseases and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Concerns are raised that plant-based foods contain smaller quantities of protein and Omega-3 than meat-based foods so a vegan diet needs to be carefully planned to ensure it contains all the nutrients you need. It can be hard to follow a strict vegan diet, especially when eating out. Supermarkets are stocking more vegan products but food labels still need to be scrutinised. Some less obvious ingredients like rennet and gelatine which come from animals may be present in food but are not clearly highlighted.
Going vegan will save our planet
It is said that some 60 billion land animals worldwide are killed for food every year and the consumption of meat is on the rise. The environmental impact of farming is undeniable - livestock farming produces methane emissions which equate to more greenhouse gas emissions worldwide than cars, aeroplanes, lorries, ships and all other transport put together. As evidenced in recent Echo studies for clients, the pressure is growing from a broad ecosystem to reduce meat consumption as a crucial factor.
But, switching to a diet based on fruits and vegetables still has an impact on the environment. Sourcing meat from a local farm shop hasn’t travelled across the world unlike a lot of fruit and vegetables which collect significant airmiles.
The Vegan Society reported that in 2018 there were around 600,000 vegans in the UK and while that figure is increasing all the time, it represents 1.2% of the UK’s population. Moreover, a third of Brits have started to reduce their meat consumption while not giving it up entirely, hence the growth of ‘flexitarians’.
Global population growth means that we will need to produce more food from less land. But how can we achieve that? Is Veganism the answer? Who is leading the debate and where and how is it evolving? Echo continues to actively monitor this global debate for a number of clients in the food, health and technology sectors.
Which issues and trends do you need to be aware of? Echo can help you identify, track and evaluate areas of reputational risk that may impact your business, your brand and your industry.