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 World Vegan Day – The rise of veganism and its growing impact on our dining choices

It is world Vegan Day, and whether you are finally deciding to try that vegan curry or perhaps kick-starting a whole new lifestyle change, one thing is for sure, the veganism movement is only getting stronger. 

Now while Starcount might not have the best vegan curry recipe, we’re not too bad at cooking up insight, so to celebrate World Vegan Day we have been tracking this ever-growing market for the past five years and seen its impact on the casual dining industry in the UK.   

We have delved into which high street restaurants have been winning in this new emerging audience, why that might be and why the casual dining industry needs to get on board with this new trend or fear being left behind. 

Vegan restaurant rankings

We had a look into our data and can see in which brands are getting it right with the vegan audience in the UK: 

What is interesting is how high we have seen burger restaurants rank on this list. However, after analysing their menus and services, they offer some of the widest variety to vegan diners and it is no wonder they are ahead of the pack.  

They have seen the cost of alienating one group of its customers and changed their menu to make them the first choice when vegans go out to eat. 

The rise of the vegan movement 

Looking at the figures, it is no wonder many restaurants are starting to change their approach to veganism on their menu. GlobalData reported that 42% of UK vegans made the switched to veganism in 2018, demonstrating the exponential rise in the trend. 

While the UK non-profit organization Veganuary, where people commit to being vegan for the month of January, reported that sign-ups for the campaign doubled in 2019 with 250,000 people joining the movement. 

By 2025 it is predicted that vegetarians and vegans will make up a quarter of the population in the UK. 

Using our social data, Starcount were able to predict the rise of the vegan trend, tracking its growth from early adoption, to a fad and then its rise to a mass trend.

In the UK, the number of vegans grew by four times from 2014 to 2018, rising from 150,000 to 600,000, equal to 1.16% of the population in Britain, Ipsos MORI.

A lifeline for Casual Dining?

It is hard to ignore the challenges the casual dining industry is facing at the moment, as one chain opens another seems to close. This year alone we have seen massive restaurant powerhouses like Jamie’s Italian crumble and fade away from our high streets. 

There are a number of reasons as to why the industry is struggling, from falling footfall to a lack of customer experience, the industry is facing a daunting task to stay on top. But could the emerging vegan audience provide a vital lifeline to get dinners going back out for dinner?

Say, for example, four friends decide to go out for dinner. Two are meat-eaters, one is a vegetarian and one is a vegan – where do they go? 

Immediately there are restrictions that all four parties impose of the decision – they cannot go to a heavily meat-based restaurant as the vegetarian and the vegan in the group will have limited choice on what they can have but if we flip it – and they go for a vegan-only restaurant, will the meat-eaters of the group like anything on the menu? 

Probably not. And just like that, the industry has lost four diners as they could not meet the needs of their market – the impact can be huge!

What’s the answer?

Restaurants need to be able to cater for vegans and they need to do more than just adding a small plate of roasted vegetables to their menu. The answer lies in data. Understand your customers better in order to get them coming back not just for your food, but for the experience you offer.

If you want to read more about the rise of veganism and its effect on the casual dining industry, read our latest whitepaper Casual Dining & Hospitality that we have produced in collaboration with Vic Searl and the team at DataHawks.

So, whether you are going vegan for the first time or it is the start of a new lifestyle this World Vegan Day, one thing is for sure there is no denying the growth of this industry.

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