Are we looking at a wholly plant-based future?
13 Nov 2018
Even though 5% of the UK population calls themselves vegan, now this segment taking it one step further past tofu by committing to leather alternatives and cruelty-free beauty. Whatever the reason behind the lifestyle change — carbon footprint, health, or animal ethics — it’s now easier to be vegan than ever before. Thanks to a host of celebrities and influencers committing to a 100% vegan lifestyle, the movement is hitting the masses.
No longer associated with hippies and hemp, the recent rise in popularity is due veganism’s serious rebrand. Whether it’s high streets or red carpets, vegan living is not only supported, but also propagated. Leonardo DiCaprio invested in chickpea snack brand Hippeas, while Beyoncé and Jay-Z launched the vegan delivery service 22 Days Nutrition. Thanks to social media and documentaries on demand, such as Netflix’s Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, information on the meat industry is more widely available, allowing a younger audience to make educated dietary decisions.
Veganism is no longer associated with denying certain ingredients but rather replacing them. The quality of vegan food has hugely improved, meaning less sugar and salt, and even meat eaters claim they can’t tell the difference between the best alternatives. The hotly anticipated B12 Burger, which supposedly tastes like actual meat, will soon hit the UK market. Even mega brands McDonald’s and Unilever are jumping on board; a “chicken burger” made out of Valess (a dairy, seaweed and fiber substitute) is now available across all Dutch restaurants. Two new vegan versions of Magnum ice cream are set to launch in Sweden and Finland.
Beyond patties and sundaes, manufacturing brands are making a huge effort to go vegan too. It was reported that Tesla has removed its animal-based leather option and staple luxury car brand Bentley is exploring alternative materials to leather as well. From cars to condoms, revolutionary new brands Hero and Green Condom Club do not contain animal products — the milk derivative casein is a commonplace ingredient.
Vegan fashion was cited as a major 2018 trend in ‘The Future 100 Report’ by JWT Intelligence, and their findings are quite accurate. Launched in 2017, new material brand Zoa™ is the world’s first bio-fabricated leather. Stella McCartney is working with Bolt Threads to incorporate their vegan “spider silk” (a lab-made protein-based yarn) into her upcoming designs. On a smaller scale, edgy Londoners have grown to adore vegan company Matt & Nat who make satchels, rucksacks and wallets that forever convince with a leather looking material. The accessories are stocked in ethical fashion boutiques across London.
As for the beauty world, going vegan is big business as people are now committed to spending their money more carefully. According to the Global Beauty Trends 2018 report, "Consumers today are doing more research and reading up on the products and services they buy more than ever before." Vegan beauty product sales have grown by a staggering 38% since March 2017 and searches for ‘vegan beauty’ have doubled on UK pharmacy Boots’s website in the last two years. Artist, entrepreneur and animal activist Kat Von D made her makeup collection 100% vegan for its 10th anniversary this year, which includes her best-selling tattoo liner. As for beauty cult classic The Ordinary, their serum foundation is not only vegan, but it’s nut, gluten, soy, alcohol, silicone and cruelty free, so customers can rest easy.
The modern shopper is happy to spend time pouring over labels to make sure a brand’s values align with their own, whether that’s environmental activism, or animal rights. In the UK, the number of people identifying as vegan has increased by 350% over a decade, so it’s time brands across all industries snap out of the noughties mindset and move forward into a new age of considerate consumerism.