Statistics about veganism

Vegan food

Introduction

Veganism is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down! Over the last five years or so, veganism has exploded, with more people opting for a compassionate lifestyle and more vegan offerings from supermarkets and restaurants alike.

But don’t just take our word for it! Check out the latest facts and figures below. We also have a page dedicated to statistics about factory farming and slaughter in our animals section.

How many vegans are there in the UK? 

According to the Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018 – 19;

  • 33.5% of the population are cutting down – or cutting out – meat with 3% of the British public identifying as vegan, which equates to roughly two million people.
  • 60% of vegans and 40% of vegetarians have adopted the lifestyle over the past five years.
  • 55% of those surveyed became vegetarian or vegan because of animal-welfare concerns, 45% because of health, and 38% because of environmental concerns.

According to Mintel;

Vegan eating

How many vegans are there in the world? 

It is difficult to find accurate data about the global growth of veganism. According to the BBC, the number of Google searches to do with veganism has grown worldwide. The top countries for vegan searches include Australia, Israel, the UK, New Zealand and Austria.

We don’t have exact figures for the global number of vegans but we do know;

Man having vegan lunch

Is veganism growing in the UK and worldwide?

Research published in 2020 has predicted an increase in veganism due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers predicted that the global plant-based meat market will grow from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $4.2 billion by 2021, a growth of 17%.

According to Mintel;

  • 16% of the new product lines introduced in 2018 were vegan.
  • Sales of vegan milks skyrocketed by 33% between 2015 and 2017.
  • The meat-free market is expected to grow to  from £559m in 2016 to £658m in 2021.

Some other interesting statistics include:

  • According to the Sainsbury’s Future of Food report, vegetarians and vegans will make up a quarter of the population by 2025. In that same report Sainsbury’s reported a 24% increase in customers searching for vegan products online, and a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year.
  • Year on year, the number of sign-ups for the Veganuary campaign increases, with a record high of 400,000 people in 2020, a vast difference to Veganuary’s first campaign in 2014 which had 3.300 pledges.
  • Vegan takeaway orders have quadrupled between 2016 – 2018, becoming the fastest growing takeaway choice.
  • Google searches related to ‘veganism’ have increased seven-fold since 2014, according to Google trends.
  • The number of vegan books available from Waterstones has also increased from 994 books in August 2018 to over 10,000 in April 2020.
  • According to research commissioned by Linda McCartney’s, one in 10 children aged eight to 13 now identify as a vegetarian or vegan, while 44% are trying to eat less meat and dairy.
  • Vegan foods are not just eaten by vegans! Kantar estimates 92% of vegans meals eaten in the UK in 2018 were eaten by non-vegans with 22 million Brits identifying as ‘flexitarian’.
  • Law firm EMW says ‘there was a 128% surge in new trademarks registered for vegan food in the UK last year, with 107 trademarks registered in 2019, up from just 47 in 2018 – with multinational businesses competing to file them.’
Cute piglet

Is veganism better for animals?

Obviously, yes! Billions of animals endure terrible suffering every year for food and dairy so by going vegan you are making a stand against this injustice.

Globally more than 70 billion animals (excluding fish) are farmed for their meat, milk, and eggs every year.

There are at least 20 billion chickens alive in the world at any one time – that’s almost three times the number of humans.

Around 50 billion animals are factory farmed – imprisoned and robbed of the ability to fulfil their natural behaviours.

Every year, 74,698,602,839 land animals and 120,000,000,000 fish are slaughtered.

The RSPCA estimates there are 900 million farmed animals alive in the UK at any one time.

Every year, approximately 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered in the UK for human consumption.

Raising the Standards of Animal Welfare, 2018

References:
  1. Compassion in World Farming. 2020. Animal Cruelty. Available: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/animal-cruelty/ [Accessed 9 September 2020].
  2. Statista. 2018. Number of chickens worldwide in 2018, by country. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/263961/top-countries-worldwide-by-chicken-stock-2007/ [Accessed 30 October 2019].
  3. FAOSTAT. 2017. Live Animals. Available: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QA [Accessed 30 October 2019].
  4. Mood, A. and Brooke, P. 2012. Estimating the Number of Farmed Fish Killed in Global Aquaculture Each Year. http://fishcount.org.uk/published/std/fishcountstudy2.pdf. [Accessed 30 October 2019].
  5. RSPCA. 2020. Facts and Figures. Available: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/facts [Accessed 9 September 2020].
  6. Public Policy Exchange. 2018. Raising the Standards of Animal Welfare. (public policy briefing 11 Oct 2018).
Reinforest

Is veganism better for the environment?

We have tons of evidence supporting a global shift to vegan diets in our report Envirocidal. Here are some highlights:

75% of the world’s agricultural land is used for raising animals – this includes animal feed, pasture and grazing.

Foley J. A. et al. 2011. Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature.

agricultural land use graphic

 

Agriculture is the single biggest cause of air pollution in europe, contributing more than residential energy use or power generation.

Lelieveld, J. et al. 2015. The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature.

air pollution graphic

 

Meat, fish, eggs and dairy use around 83% of the world’s farmland and contribute 56-58% of food’s different emissions but only provide 37% of the protein we eat and 18% of calories.

Poore, J and Nemecek, T. 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science.

world's farmland use

 

Livestock production is responsible for 70% of global freshwater consumption.

World Watch Institute. 2004. State of the World 2004.

livestock production freshwater consumption

 

In the amazon rainforest, 80% of deforested land is used for cattle grazing.

Veiga J.B., et al. 2002. Cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest. Animal Production Sciences. 

animal agriculture rainfoest destruction graphic

 

If we continue at the same rate, 88% of our fishing stocks will be overfished by 2050.

Worm B. 2016. Averting a global fisheries disaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

fishing stocks graphic

 

One in nine people in the world today are undernourished, yet around a third of the world’s cereal harvest is fed to animals.

Government Office for Science. 2011. Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures Synthesis Report.

one in nine people are malnourished graphic

 

If the world went vegan, it could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and could lead to health-care related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

Springmann, M. et al. 2016. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. PNAS

if the world went vegan graphic

Vegan diets result in 76% less land use and 50% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Government Office for Science. 2011. Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures Synthesis Report.

vegan diets less greenhouse gas emissions graphic

 

Reducing animal products in the diet could save enough water for 1.8 billion people.

Jalava, M. et al. 2014. Diet change – a solution to reduce water use? Environmental Research Letters.

reducing animal products water consumption graphic

References:
  1. Foley JA, Ramankutty N, Brauman KA, Cassidy ES, Gerber JS, Johnston M, Mueller ND, O’Connell C, Ray DK, West PC, Balzer C, Bennett EM, Carpenter SR, Hill J, Monfreda C, Polasky S, Rockström J, Sheehan J, Siebert S, Tilman D and Zaks DP. 2011. Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature. 478 (7369) 337-342.
  2. Lelieveld J, Evans JS, Fnais M, Giannadaki D and Pozzer A. 2015. The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature. 525 (7569) 367-371. 
  3. Poore, J and Nemecek, T. 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science. 360. 987-992. 
  4. World Watch Institute. 2004. State of the World 2004. WWI Report. http://www.greeneconomics.net/StateOfWorld-2004.pdf
  5. Veiga JB, Tourrand JF, Poccard-Chapuis R, and Piketty MG. 2002. Cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest. Anim. Prod. Aust. 24. 253-256
  6. Worm B. 2016. Averting a global fisheries disaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (18) 4895-4897.
  7. Government Office for Science. 2011. Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures Synthesis Report C1: Trends in food demand and production.
  8. Jalava M, Kummu M, Porkka M, Siebert S, Varis O. 2014. Diet change – a solution to reduce water use? Environmental Research Letters. 9, 074016.
Vegan food

Is veganism better for health?

The short answer is – yes! We have detailed information in our Incredible Vegan Health Report. Here’s a snapshot:

Plant-based foods, are more protective than animal food groups against chronic diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders and cancers.

Fardet, A. and Boirie, Y. 2014. Associations between food and beverage groups and major diet-related chronic diseases: an exhaustive review of pooled/meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Nutrition Reviews.

Vegans have the healthiest weight among all dietary groups and received the highest score on the healthy eating scale.

Clarys, P. et al. 2014. Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients.

Vegans have more than sufficient intakes of protein, vitamins and minerals – including calcium and iron above recommended intake.

Rizzo, N.S. et al. 2013. Nutrient profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Vegans have the highest intake of fibre and the lowest intake of fat.

Rizzo, N.S. et al. 2013. Nutrient profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Key T.J. et al. 2014. Cancer in British vegetarians: updated analyses of 4998 incident cancers in a cohort of 32,491 meat eaters, 8612 fish eaters, 18,298 vegetarians, and 2246 vegans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vegan diets are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and lower cholesterol levels.

Garton L. 2014. Food Fact Sheet – Vegetarian Diets. British Dietetic Association.

Vegan diets have a cancer-protective effect as vegans have a considerably higher intake of foods and nutrients protective against cancer.

Craig W.J. 2009. Health effects of vegan diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Compared to vegetarian diets (which include dairy and eggs), vegan diets offer greater protection from obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease related mortality.

Le, L.T. and Sabaté, J. 2014. Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: findings from the Adventist cohorts. Nutrients.

References:
  1. Fardet A and Boirie Y. 2014. Associations between food and beverage groups and major diet-related chronic diseases: an exhaustive review of pooled/meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Nutrition Reviews. 72 (12) 741-162.
  2. Clarys P, Deliens T, Huybrechts I, Deriemaeker P, Vanaelst B, De Keyzer W, Hebbelinck M and Mullie P. 2014. Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients. 6 (3) 1318-1332.
  3. Rizzo NS, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Sabate J, Fraser GE. 2013. Nutrient profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 113 (12) 1610-1619
  4. Key TJ, Appleby PN, Crowe FL, Bradbury KE, Schmidt JA and Travis RC. 2014. Cancer in British vegetarians: updated analyses of 4998 incident cancers in a cohort of 32,491 meat eaters, 8612 fish eaters, 18,298 vegetarians, and 2246 vegans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 100 Suppl 1: 378S-385S.
  5. Garton L; British Dietetic Association. 2014. Food Fact Sheet – Vegetarian Diets
  6. Craig WJ. 2009. Health effects of vegan diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 89 (5) 1627S-1633S.
  7. Le LT and Sabaté J. 2014. Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: findings from the Adventist cohorts. Nutrients. 6 (6) 2131-2147.

 

 

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