Published Jan 26, 2022
Dirk Pieterse, Enterprise Account Director at Toluna
The new year isn’t just for going to the gym or lowering alcohol consumption. On top of these annual resolutions, many people take up the challenge to participate in Veganuary. The trend originated in 2014 and still inspires people to try new vegan food in the first month of the year. In fact, Veganuary inspired more than half a million people across 200 countries and territories to try vegan food in 2021.
To understand just how much the trend has caught on and where things stand in January 2022, we designed an agile survey in collaboration with marketeers and insights professionals from many different enterprises who showed interest in the topic. The findings of the survey, which was conducted on Friday 21st January among UK consumers, show that Veganuary is more popular than ever.
To contextualise the findings of our study, we wanted to understand consumers’ diets on a holistic level. It should come as no surprise that most consumers—sixty-eight percent, to be exact—are effectively meat-eaters, with men (72%) reporting this more than women (64%). After meat-eaters, flexitarians (17%) are the next most-popular group, followed by vegetarians (7%), pescatarians (4%), and vegans (4%).
While vegans make up only a small slice of the population, there’s no doubt vegan food is growing in popularity. Nearly half of consumers (47%) say they’re buying and eating more vegan food than they did a year ago. The reasons for this are usually related to health, and for 63% of meat-eaters, it’s not difficult to have two meat-free days a week. With that being said, only 12% of meat-eaters say it would be easy to change their diet to no meat at all. And for those who currently never buy vegan food, only 12% expect to eat it more in the future.
Rather than trying to make full vegans out of meat-eaters, brands in the space should take solace in the incremental growth from meat-eaters and continue to provide appealing options for the days they’re willing to go meat-free.
Overall, Veganuary has strong awareness, with 84% of respondents saying they are familiar with the concept. And of those who were aware, 58% said they’ve either participated in the past, are currently participating, or plan to do so in the future.
In terms of follow-through in 2022, 20% of surveyed consumers said they participated in Veganuary this year. For over half of them, this is their first time taking part. The most popular dietary method for participants is to eat solely vegetables or vegetable-based products (57%), followed by meat or seafood replacements and dairy alternatives. Which brands do they turn to?
• Out of 16 options, consumers selected Quorn (68%) as the best meat replacement brand during Veganuary
• Out of 15 options, consumers selected Alpro (60%) as the best dairy alternative brand during Veganuary
While Veganuary represents only one out of 12 calendar months, it provides real long-term value for brands in this space. Out of all consumers who have participated in Veganuary in the past, only 27% said they switched right back to their normal eating behaviors. The remaining 73% said that they ate less meat in the subsequent months—or even switched to another diet.
As mentioned previously, Veganuary isn’t just a UK phenomenon—it’s a global one. We also surveyed consumers in the Netherlands, where 42% of respondents were familiar with the concept. Only 11% of consumers said they were participating this year—including the 3% that are vegan year-round—but there’s hope for growth going forward; twenty-eight percent of those familiar with Veganuary are planning to participate in the future. The main reason? Care for the environment (62%).