World Vegan Day – what’s to celebrate?

Source: Flickr/ owlana

Source: Flickr/ owlana

Today is World Vegan Day. I should be at the Melbourne Showgrounds to celebrate and show support, but I don’t like crowds. It’s a family event and it looks busy. Hence, I reflect from my armchair (the armchair, btw, is only a rhetorical armchair, because I’m sitting on a fit ball).

So what’s to celebrate today?

Global trends

Mintel, who call themselves “the world’s leading market intelligence agency” have just released the global food and drink trends 2016. On top of their listing of 12 trends, under the heading “Alternatives Everywhere”, they suggest:

The growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.

In other words, vegan food is becoming mainstream. That’s good news for the animals, the planet and human health.

A YouGov survey in Britain late last year identified a similar trend. YouGov found that

around one in three people (35%) say they are willing to consider eating less meat, with one in five (20%) saying they have already cut back on the amount of meat they eat over the last year. Only 5% say they are eating more.

The most common drivers for motivating behaviour change towards more plant-based diets and ‘less and better’ meat eating included concern for health, concern for farm animal welfare and cost savings of eating less meat.

The survey found a lower level of awareness of meat’s contribution to climate change compared to other factors. Only 28% of people agreed that livestock production has significant impacts on the environment. This points to a lower awareness of meat’s impact on the environment.

How can this impact business/share portfolios?

Vegetarians and vegans still make up only a small proportion of the population. But there are many more who are cutting down their meat intake. And this presents business opportunities.

At the Natural Products Expo West 2015, a natural products convention in the U.S, the conclusion of one group of presenters was:

Vegan diets, vegan products, and people who eat vegan foods are not the latest “fad.” Unlike oat bran, low-carb, Paleo, etc., the vegan market will show steady, long-term growth due to myriad and varied potential consumers.

Others agree. For example, an article on the NASDAQ website explains “How The ‘Death Of Meat’ Could Impact Your Portfolio”:

The reasons for declining meat consumption aren’t a mystery. Doctors have been warning about greater cancer and other health risks from eating too much red meat for quite some time, and people finally got the message and have started cutting back. What’s shocking, though, is the extent of the change.

The article goes on to advise:

Think twice about holding long positions in meat industry stocks or exchange-traded securities if the new guidelines do advise eating less meat. If the new guidelines come to pass, the risk of long-term profit shrinkage would be much too great. A reduction in our meat consumption would likely more than offset still-rising meat consumption in other parts of the world.

(the “new guidelines” refer to the U.S. dietary guidelines, to be released later this year)

The French also are experiencing a trend away from meat. Meat consumption is going down, like in other EU countries. Beef and overall meat consumption has fallen by 15% across France between 2003 and 2010.

In Germany, every third person has already tried out vegan foods or eats them more frequently. Nearly half of Germans have a positive attitude to vegan foods (YouGov Deutschland AG). Businesses in Germany have seen and seized the new opportunities. Examples include:

  • the vegan supermarket chain Veganz
  • Edeka’s vegan food pyramid (Edeka is a network of some 11,500 independently owned stores)
  • meat-based sausage manufacturer Rügenwalder Mühle has announced that the company plans to include vegan products to make up at least 30% of its products.

To summarise, the good news is that meat consumption in the Western world is going down. This creates new business opportunities and new, exciting non-animal products for consumers. For us vegans, this will make it a tiny bit easier to deal with “the eternal loneliness of the vegan journey, and the pain of living in a non-vegan world.”

Happy World Vegan Day!

Further reading:

Bailey, R., Frogatt, A., & Wellesley, L. (2014). Livestock – climate change’s forgotten sector. Global public opinion on meat and dairy consumption: Chatham House.

Dibb, S., & Fitzpatrick, I. (2014). Let’s talk about meat: Changing dietary behaviour for the 21st century: Eating Better.

Conner, T. S., Brookie, K. L., Richardson, A. C., & Polak, M. A. (2014). On carrots and curiosity: Eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life. British Journal of Health Psychology.

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