Innovation That Matters

How innovation is making Veganuary easier

Sustainable Source

More and more people are giving up animal products for January. How are innovators providing them with more options?

In 2014, former English teacher Jane Land and her husband, Matthew Glover, founded a new charity: Veganuary. The organisation encourages people around the world to go vegan for the month of January. Since its foundation, the concept has gained traction in the UK, where the charity is registered, and elsewhere. In fact, the organisation claims that, in 2022, more than 620,000 people officially took the pledge, while more than 1,540 new vegan products and menu options were launched in the campaign’s target countries. And this was not a one off success, the number of Veganuary participants has grown steadily since 2015.

Veganuary is just one initiative that it is part of a wider trend that is seeing greater interest in animal-free products and diets. While strict vegans remain a small proportion of the population, there is evidence that people are reducing their consumption of animal products – at least in some regions of the world. For example, a 2022 Ipsos poll found that almost half of UK adults are considering reducing their intake of animal products in the future.

Peoples’ reasons for cutting down on their meat intake vary. One survey found that the biggest three reasons why people took part in Veganuary 2021 were animal welfare, personal health, and the environment. Climatarianism, where people make food choices to reduce their carbon footprint, has also emerged as a growing trend.

But perhaps one explanation why more and more people are committing to Veganuary is the growth in the availability and accessibility of plant-based products. While vegan products were once hard to come by, the vegan food market reached $24.59 billion in 2022. And a significant proportion of the innovators we spot at Springwise are devoted to developing plant-based foods, not to mention a whole host of other animal-free products.

Here are some of the most exciting vegan innovations to give you inspiration, whether you are taking part in Veganuary or are interested in plant-based products more generally.

Beyond meat

The increasing number of meat substitutes on supermarket shelves is perhaps the most high-profile vegan innovation of recent years. Back in 2020, UK supermarket Tesco reported a 50 per cent increase in demand for meat-free substitutes and committed to increasing sales of meat alternatives by 300 per cent by 2025. And while some may see meat substitutes as yesterday’s news, at Springwise we continue to see innovations making alternative meats closer in taste and texture to their animal-based equivalents. For example, Yali Bio is using microbes to create fat molecules that are very similar to those found in animal products.

Zooming out, ‘fake’ meat is just the tip of the iceberg. At Springwise, we have spotted animal-free alternatives for a whole range of food products. These include bacteria-based whipped cream, egg-free egg whites, and dairy proteins made from plant cells.

Vegans can eat out too

According to Veganuary’s 2022 impact report, more than 740 new vegan menus were added to chain restaurants for Veganuary 2022. And, in the US and UK at least, public opinion seems to favour more vegan eating out options. A 2022 YouGov survey found that 45 per cent of Americans and 41 per cent Britons agree that restaurants should serve more meat and dairy-free food – compared to just 30 per cent who disagreed.

All-vegan restaurant chains have been around for a while now, and the world’s largest vegan fast-food chain, Loving Hut, has more than 200 locations in over 35 countries. And that is not to mention countless independent vegan restaurants. The variety of vegan restaurant options continues to grow, however, with Springwise recently spotting a new hi-tech vegan sushi chain opening in the Netherlands.

Clothes and beyond

Much of the commentary around Veganuary is focused on vegan diets. But veganism encompasses animal-free products in all aspects of our daily lives, and this is reflected in the innovations we see at Springwise.

For example, cow leather is one common fashion material that is definitely not vegan. And while labels such as Stella McCartney and Veja have successfully used faux leather, there remains uncertainty around the environmental credentials of the most common plastic alternatives. Thankfully, innovators are continuing to develop alternative leathers that are more sustainable. These include a vegan leather made from locally sourced industrial fruit waste, and Phleather, a leather alternative made from discarded temple flowers, which was nominated for an Earthshot Prize in 2022.

Shoes are another everyday item for which there are an increasing number of vegan options. For example, Springwise has recently spotted Hylo, a footwear brand that has developed a vegan athletic shoe made from non-animal products, most of which are sourced from within 60 kilometres of the factory. And beyond clothing and footwear, UK-based company Wild Cosmetics has developed a vegan deodorant that comes in refillable packaging.

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