Surprising Vegan Industry Demographics – With More Surprises to Come

It feels as though astonishing new vegan industry demographics come to light almost weekly – the vegan industry is booming. A diet that excludes meat and dairy products used to be considered fringe and a fad, or even bizarre and extreme. It was intrinsically linked with being a hippy or an activist, never a lifestyle that large numbers of people would follow. On a practical level, vegan food hasn’t been readily available until relatively recently…or particularly appetizing when it was.

That’s all changing. Why? What’s motivating more people (and companies) to move to a plant-based lifestyle?

The rise of the vegan industry

There are a few substantial reasons that we’re seeing vegan industry demographics explode.

Personal health, climate change, and animal welfare are all motivating factors for veganism, and the ease and speed at which information now spreads is oiling the vegan industry’s wheels.

The National Academy of Sciences published a study which said that transitioning toward more plant-based diets by 2050, “could reduce global mortality by 6–10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29–70%.” Additionally, the economic benefit could be up to $31 trillion in reduced costs from health care and climate change.

A UN report published in 2006 described the “very substantial contribution of animal agriculture to climate change and air pollution, to land, soil and water degradation and to the reduction of biodiversity.” And a 2010 follow-up report by the United Nations Environment Program warned that an increase in meat and dairy consumption coupled with a global population forecast to be 9.1 billion by 2050, meant a global shift towards plant-based diets is vital to save the world from the effects of climate change and food shortages.

Along with these worrying statistics, another factor that has driven an increase in veganism is the improvement and better availability of vegan food. Far from boring salads and bland soups, vegan food is experimental, tasty and abundant.

A survey of U.S. adults revealed some amazing vegan industry numbers:

  • Around 60% of consumers considered a vegan diet to be healthy
  • A massive 12% of under-50s identified as vegan or vegetarian 

This is reflected in industry sales. In 2017, the sales value of vegan or vegetarian food was about $2 billion, an increase of 23% from 2016. And this growth isn’t just in the U.S. – these figures are reflected globally.

The vegan industry goes mainstream

Out-of-the-way vegetarian restaurants and expensive ingredients found only in health food stores are becoming a thing of the past. Mainstream supermarkets and even fast food chains now have vegan options.

Almond milk, for example, is seeing a significant increase in global popularity, with a market value of $1.85 billion in 2016. That market is forecast to grow to over $5 billion by 2024. According to Forbes, the sale of cow’s milk is decreasing worldwide. The global meat substitutes market is predicted to turn over $5.2 billion by 2020, equivalent to an 8.4% compound annual growth rate.

The traditional food industry is catching up as well, with cookbooks, blogs, YouTube channels, documentaries and new business startups abounding in an effort to meet this new demand. This is being driven further by celebrities and athletes discussing and promoting their vegan lifestyles.

Starting in the U.K. and rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, the annual Veganuary campaign urges people to try out veganism throughout January. It also gives us some astonishing vegan industry demographics. Veganuary launched in 2014 with 3,300 sign-ups. In 2016, that figure was 23,000 – and more than doubled in 2017. In 2018, there were a staggering 168,000 sign-ups, mainly from females under 35.

The future of the vegan industry

There is no doubt that the vegan industry will grow in the future as more people adopt veganism as a way of life. When Dr. Marco Springmann, James Martin fellow at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future Of Food in the U.K., modelled what he thought a vegan planet would look like, he found that, “A broadly healthier global diet could save five million lives; a vegetarian diet could save seven million lives; but a vegan diet would have the greatest impact.”

That is why we’ll continue to be surprised by vegan industry demographics.

Vegan ingredient suppliers

Vegan ingredient suppliers are of course becoming more prolific as the vegan industry expands. These companies include food manufacturers, clothing retailers, restaurants, and cosmetics companies.

Because of growing demand, nutraceutical formulators we work with are always looking for pure, sustainable, and traceable sources of ingredients. That’s why we are so excited to partner with Nature's Crops International to distribute our vegan ingredient Ahiflower. It’s the most effective combined omega-3-6-9 source from a single plant.

The unique ingredients we provide for suppliers to create superior formulations help people achieve a higher quality of life through health ingredients. For more information about our vegan ingredients, please contact us.