Skip to main content

Why buy… Vegan?

Veganism is the fastest growing consumer trend in the UK but why are so many people switching to a vegan lifestyle?

What is veganism?

Veganism is often thought of in black and white terms – you’re either vegan, or you’re not. In reality, there is a lot of debate about what constitutes veganism.
As a rule, vegans avoid consuming products that originate from other animals to the greatest extent possible and practical for them. This means products that contain meat, dairy or eggs.

Vegans commonly avoid wearing animal-derived clothing, such as wool or leather.

Honey, alcohol filtered through fish bladders, medication in gelatine capsules, eggs from the neighbour’s chicken, condoms containing milk protein… these are just a few products that some vegans would avoid at all costs, while others would let slide.

Three reasons to buy vegan

1. For the animals

Vast amounts of people go vegan after discovering the reality of the animal product industry. While vegetarians avoid eating the bodies of animals, vegans highlight how animals used for dairy ultimately meet the same fate – albeit often after a prolonged period of suffering.

Drive down the motorway or go on a hike in the British countryside and you’ll probably spot cows, pigs or sheep. However, around 70% of the UK’s farm animals are factory farmed. Many have little or no access to pasture.

Our article on a typical life cycle of a dairy cow in the UK provides more information about what life is like for many cows in the UK.

There have been several exposes of egg companies breaching animal welfare laws. Noble Foods – the company that owns free range Happy Eggs – is one offender. Hens in factory farms supplying Noble Foods' Big & Fresh brand have been locked in crowded cages and checked on less than once per day, becoming frail, featherless and dying.

Our new guide to eggs provides more detail on the egg industry, exposing the myths associated with types of rearing such as 'barn' eggs. It also explains how almost all male chicks are essentially redundant at birth and are killed when only a few days old. The guide provides recommended vegan alternatives for a variety of uses of eggs.

Find out more

  • For a light-hearted introduction to veganism see the film Carnage
  • For footage of UK animal farming, if you’re brave enough try Land of Hope and Glory

 

PETA on the egg industry

A short film from PETA

2. For the planet

For years, environmental vegans have been bewildered by the lack of focus environmental organisations place on animal agriculture. This is starting to change with the emergence of movements like Animal Rebellion.

Raising animals for meat, eggs and milk is said to generate 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is higher than all the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation combined.

Our article looking at meat, vegetarian and vegan diets also shows the difference in environmental impact of different diets. We have a similar article which looks specifically at plant vs dairy milks.

The production of soy for animal feed has also come under fierce criticism, owed to its link with deforestation. Most of the world’s soya is fed to livestock, with just 6% eaten directly by humans. Soya is Brazil’s biggest export by value, and according to Greenpeace deforestation in the Amazon increased by 55% in the first four months of 2020. While environmentalists are increasingly accepting the fact that hopping on weekend flights is not compatible with a healthy carbon footprint, rethinking what’s on the dinner plate is a way to build your love for the planet into daily life.

Find out more

The documentary Cowspiracy makes the environmental arguments for veganism.

Why is soya milk better for the planet than dairy milk?

3. For People

Human health

Visit a Vegan Festival and you’ll find a plethora of vegans decreeing their love for junk food. Doughtnuts, kebabs, mac and cheese, pick and mix… name a food and there’s probably a vegan version.

However, for people who are health-conscious a planned vegan diet can be the way to go. Healthy vegan diets have been shown to improve heart health, lower the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, and aid weight loss (for those seeking to lose weight). The World Health Organisation recommends plant-based foods for a healthy diet.

Find out more

Discover more about a healthy vegan diet on the Vegan Society website or on Dr Michael Greger’s website Nutrition Facts.

If you’re considering going vegan for any reason, make sure you get enough B12 or take a supplement.

 

Human rights

Venture down the rabbit hole and you’ll find a world of activists, academics, individuals and organisations that see veganism as a movement that challenges a range of oppressive systems. For example:

  • Carol Adams made history with her classic The Sexual Politics of Meat in 1990, which drew comparisons between the commodification of women’s bodies with the commodification of other animals.
  • Aph Ko highlights how white supremacist notions of animality and race exist through the consumption and exploitation of flesh.
  • Ahlam Tarayra draws comparisons between hierarchical violence seen in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and hierarchical violence between humans and other animals.
  • Christopher Sebastian focuses on how human relationships with other animals shape our attitudes about race, sexuality and class.

Find out more

The Vegan Vanguard podcast introduces a range of topics that fall under the umbrella of intersectional veganism.

Highlights from Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2021

Sales of ethical food products increased by 12.3% compared with 8.5% in the total UK food retail sector in 2020.

Our research shows that the most popular product areas in the sector were Vegetarian & Plant-based Alternatives, Free Range Eggs and Fairtrade. The rise in sales of meat-free alternatives reflects the increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets in the UK.

And Sainsbury’s helped boost the market share of free-range and organic eggs by joining Waitrose and Coop in discontinuing cage eggs.

The market for meat-free and dairy-free products grew by 33.7% from 2019 to 2020, rising from £1.1bn to around £1.5bn. Compare this with 2010 when the meat-and dairy-free market was valued at £541m. This sector has broadly tripled in a decade.

Read the full report for more detail.

What Next?

There are several approaches to veganism, and several reasons for being vegan. If you want to reduce harm to other animals, the environment, your health, or other people, joining the UK’s fastest growing consumer trend could be the way to go.

Depending on you feel about things, some people wish to support primarily vegan and vegetarian companies rather than meat and dairy companies. If this is an area of interest for you, read our article on which meat and dairy companies also own vegan brands, and also read up on a list of brands that are promoted as 'ethical' but are owned by unethical businesses (many of which are big meat and dairy producers like Alpro and Danone).

Sign up for a 30 day challenge

There are several vegan challenges that you can sign up to including ones from Viva and Veganuary.

 

Popular Shopping Guides for Vegans

Meat and dairy companies are cashing in on the vegan food market