The first month of the year has prompted many to ditch the booze in the name of ‘Dry Jan’, but growing numbers of people are dumping meat too and sampling a plant-based diet with ‘Veganuary’. It is estimated that there are currently over 3.5 million vegans living in the UK and that number is only likely to rise with the emergence of similar initiatives.
Once the bane of dinner party hosts, vegans are no longer creeping about in the shadows of society. Greggs releasing a vegan sausage roll is testament to the fact that veganism has now gone mainstream. Full-time, hardcore herbivores and samplers of veganism cite climate change, health benefits and the lessening of animal suffering as the main reasons for their dietary changes.
So, instead of getting red in the face with faux-outrage like a Piers Morgan, retailers should be asking what they can do to capitalise on this growing trend.
Acknowledge that veganism is not a fad
If veganism wore the guise of any other consumer trend, then retailers would be on it like a flash. However, because veganism is concerned with animal welfare, there seems to be a tendency to mock and ignore its platform in mainstream British society.
Yes, we’ve all seen the PETA campaign about using ‘animal friendly language’ (grabbing a flower by the thorns instead of a bull by the horns), and while we can laugh, it should be remembered that this is hyperbolic; it is designed to stir response, create dialogue and it isn’t representative of all vegans.
Drop your deep-rooted pettiness
Admittedly, some vegans cross the line with preachy-rampages, but on the whole, isn’t it just another deeply held belief that someone is passionate about? How is it any different to your dad arguing in the pub about the superiority of his beloved Leeds United?
Also, if you don’t want to be vegan that is completely fine. No one is forcing you to convert. More tolerance should be exhibited to someone who is committed neither harming you or animals, instead of chastising them and quizzing them about where they will find their protein.
Vegans are no longer marginalised in their beliefs, so you should stop discounting them as a point of meat-eating principle.
Accommodating doesn’t mean abandoning
As a food retailer, modifying your menu doesn’t have to mean abandoning meat all together. Think of it as a simple extension of your menu and not a total overhaul. Supermarkets such as Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and many more have all enhanced their vegan offering with great success. They still sell meat, but they’re now more inclusive to those who choose not to consume meat.
Pret a Manger went a step further than this by opening all vegetarian branches in London which stock an extensive list of vegan friendly products. A relatively small change like this for a huge business or making inroads instore with a vegan aisle can endear your company in the minds of vegans everywhere.
Whether or not you agree with the plant-based movement, to disregard and dismiss its growing popularity would be incredibly foolish for retailers.