Veganism is gaining momentum in 2023. Wikus Engelbrecht, communications manager at ProVeg South Africa, delves into the reasons behind the plant-based surge and the significance of World Vegan Month for newcomers to the lifestyle.
World Vegan Day was on 1 November, inaugurating a month-long annual celebration of veganism and the plant-based lifestyle. New research shows how veganism is proliferating significantly throughout the globe.
Established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then chair of The Vegan Society in the United Kingdom, Vegan Month commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the organisation and the coining of the terms “vegan” and “veganism” that are so hotly discussed and ubiquitous today.
The Vegan Society describes World Vegan Month as “a time to shine a light on the vegan movement”, while the Farm Animal Rights Movement calls it “a month of compassion and understanding of veganism”.
Even if you’re not vegan or ready to try plant-based eating, it’s a ripe opportunity to learn about the lifestyle and sample novel vegan foods, particularly since many restaurants offer plant-based options as a unique feature of their November menu to commemorate the occasion.
Veganism on the rise in 2023
Soylent reports the number of vegans worldwide reaches approximately 79 million and from 2004 to 2019, the number of vegans in the USA increased 30-fold. During the pandemic, the plant-based market grew by 27%.
According to Grand View Research, the global vegan food market size was valued at USD 16.55 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7% from 2023 to 2030. They have reported that increased awareness about the health benefits of following a vegan diet is a key factor driving the growth.
A study from the University of Oxford found that if the world went vegan, it could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by two-thirds lead to healthcare-related savings and avoid climate damages of around USD 1.5 trillion.
Veganuary, one of the most popular plant-based campaigns, has the main purpose of endorsing a vegan diet for January and launches at the end of the year. In 2022 alone the sign-ups for this campaign reached new highs, with over 629 000 people from 228 different countries signing up to participate. Historically, this number has increased year upon year.
According to Plant Based News, the 2023 Veganuary campaign has led to an amazing figure of almost 30% of participants still eating a plant-based diet by late this year – more than a quarter of all participants.
Why people go vegan
Animal welfare is still at the forefront of the vegan movement, though. Studies suggest that around 68.1% of vegans are motivated by animal welfare, followed by health reasons at 17.4%. Environmental issues are slightly behind at 9.7%, despite the meat and dairy industry being one of the main contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, which remains an enormous existential threat spurring rapid climate change and instability.
With veganism’s rise in recent years, the value of the vegan food market has also shot up. In 2018 it was valued at USD 14.2 billion and is expected to rise to a staggering USD 31.4 billion by 2026. As for the vegan beauty products industry, it’s currently worth USD 15.1 billion and is predicted to exceed USD 21 billion by 2027.
On Google search alone interest in the word “veganism” has grown year upon year, reaching a high point during the pandemic and remaining consistently far more prominent than a decade ago.
Where South Africa fits in
Google Trends puts South Africa at 14th globally in searches for “vegan,” the only African nation to rank so high Furthermore, Trade Intelligence reports 20% of domestic customers identified as flexitarian, 17% as vegetarian, and 9% as vegan – showing a substantial foundation for the South African plant-based movement and annual progress of this market segment far beyond what has been seen in previous years.
Plant-based eating supplies all the vital nutrients in a healthy diet drastically reducing environmental agricultural impacts compared to animal-based farming and the extraordinary products available today by no means require consumers to sacrifice taste while reaping the benefits of an abundantly healthy lifestyle.
ProVeg embraces Vegan Month as the ideal time for people to try plant-based diets and recommends our Veggie Challenge as a great tool to guide participants through 30 days of plant-based eating.
- Wikus Engelbrecht is the communications manager for ProVeg South Africa. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Food For Mzansi.
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